ASP World Championship Down To The Wire

ASP World Championship Down To The Wire

Good friends Parko and Fanning are set to square off at the Billabong Pipe Masters to see who will wear the ASP World Title crown.Billabong Pipeline Masters

When the Billabong Pipe Masters contest opens next week, two childhood friends are set to do battle at the sport's greatest venue locked in a struggle for the World Championship.

In a race that started with one contender lengths ahead of the pack, the ASP World Surfing title will now be decided at the very last event of the season at the most acclaimed wave in the world.

Just four months ago Joel Parkinson seemed downright unstoppable winning the first two WCT events at the outset, followed by a ninth and a third. When he took his third victory with perfect scores at big Jeffery's Bay South Africa, the media pundits dubbed 2009 the year of Joel. But fate, as she so often does, had other things in mind – in this case, a nagging ankle injury that would break Parko's stride mid-season.

Moving steadily to the front of the pack was his old friend Mick Fanning, the 2007 World Champ, who would close the gap and eventually overtake Parko with event wins at Lowers, France, and Portugal.

Interestingly, it was Fanning who leapt ahead early in his first title race, a brilliant but often unpredictable performer. And Joel, who has been Mister Consistency for the last 3 years, has been more erratic in his second half than in any season in memory.

This year their records are nearly identical only in reverse: While Parkinson won the two openers and the last contest of 2009's first half, Fanning took the first two events of the second half and smashed the last contest before the final showdown, nosing ahead by a few points.

Heading into the Hawaiian homestretch, one event remains: Billabong's Pipe Masters. The crown jewel of the Van's Triple Crown will decide the fate of two lifelong Australian mates – and the winner of the World Tour. It could be either one's game as the title race heads to the wire.

In the end, it has all come down to the Billabong Pipe Masters. Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning – an epic showdown between two great friends and two incredible surfers will commence one week from today. Come December 8th, the drama will unfold, Pipe's famous curtains will fall, and a new ASP World Champion will be crowned. Mark your calendars, clear your schedule, and glue yourself to the webcast – surfing history is set to be made.