The Billabong Pro J-Bay's over, it's been a hell of a ride, and as you probably could have guessed some months ago, Joel Parkinson is on one hell of a roll. No question now, this is Parko's year. The dude's more in form, more consistent, more driven than anybody else in the ASP rank and file.
There were murmurs after Brazil that Kelly was about to stage the comeback of all comebacks, but when the champ lost to good friend Taylor Knox on the final day of competition, those hopes and dreams were all but extinguished. We can talk about the title race later, but for now, what is most defines the J-Bay event are the waves. The boys absolutely scoredand in the process proved that Billabong's not cursed when it comes to getting waves for their events.
"The conditions were just unbelievable and the surfing speaks for itself," Parko said shortly after his win. "The past two days are a bit of a blurso many massive scores and barrels from everyone. In terms of the world title, I do my best not to think about it. In the past, I've done my head in by wondering how many points behind or ahead of someone I am, and this season, I've just focused on the task at hand. I've had a good start, but it's a long year and a lot can happen. I'm looking forward to heading home to see my family and training hard for the next one."
With three wins to his credit this year, Parko is squarely in the driver's seat from here on out.
"I'm going to probably have to win three straight now to get back in this thing," Slater remarked after he bowed out early. "If you do the numbers, I think before this contest, Parko was ten heats ahead of me, and if I want to contend, I need to catch up. That obviously wasn't happening for me today."
Also worthy of note, Damien Hobgood waved the goofy flag and got himself into his first final in some time. Traditionally goofy-footers haven't had much of an impact at J-Bay, but along with Kai Otton and Bobby Martinez the right-footed contingent was well represented in the money rounds.
Then there was Dane Reynolds, in desperate need of a result, he struggled through equipment issues, and was hence rewarded with the first semifinal finish of his World Tour career, which hopefully helps him re-qualify next year and keep all us couch surfers entertained.
The tour now goes on a nearly two-month hiatus before things pick back up again at the Hurley Pro at Lowers. Stay tuned.