The World Title: It's All In The Numbers

Kelly Cestari/Getty Images

The last time we saw Parko he was extending his ratings lead, but as Mike Newman illustrates, it gets really interesting when you take a look behind the numbers.

At the beginning of the ASP World Tour season the Hobgoods hipped me to the statistical talents of Mr. Mike Newman. Mike is unbelievable when it comes to numbers and surfing, a regular, old geek you could say. But that doesn't do his abilities justice. A handful of the boys on tour have contracted with Mike to help them analyze and understand the numerical side of their surfing. Precisely, what it means to make it through heat after heat after heat. Unlike stat-driven sports such as golf or baseball, surfing is severely lacking in numbers. Save the obsessive compulsiveness of Al Hunt's record keeping, the ASP's own database of stats is borderline abysmal, and Mike's begun to make quite a nice little niche for himself as one of the only other statitians in the game. So, without further adieu, Mike put together a few facts about world title races past and present. Have fun digesting it all:

Joel Parkinson has a handy lead in the race for this year's title. If he continues on to be the world champion he will be the 17th surfer to win an ASP Men's World Title. He will be the 9th Australian, and the 4th to win it from the 4th position the previous year.

At the half way mark of '09 run Parko has $140.3K in prize money for the season, on target to beat Slater's record of $260.1K last season. And if the natural footer wins, it will be the 8th year in a row that the goofy-footed surfers have missed out. Not since the two goofies C.J and Occy placed 1st and 2nd in 2001 has a right-foot-forward surfer placed in the top 2. This year, at the half way mark of the season, there are 3 goofy-footers in the top 6 positions.

8 world titles have been won by surfers over 30-years-old. Mark Richard's 2nd and 3rd title wins were at 30 and 31 in 1981-'82. Richards was the oldest winner until Occy won at 33 years old in 1999. In 2000, Hawaiian Sunny Garcia won at 30 years old. Slater's 7th title in 2005 was won at 33 years old, which was the oldest, being 4 months older than Occy in '99. Then Slater won another 2 at 34 years old in 2006, and at 36 years old in 2008.

Kelly Cestari/Getty Images

Kelly, the oldest—and most dominant—world champion ever.

The closest world title race was in 1998 when Kelly won his 6th title, also the year he went into retirement. Kelly defeated Mick Campbell by just 38 points, who beat Danny Wills by 10 points. The three surfers finished within 48 points of the Number One position. In 1996 and 1997, in the middle of Slater's golden run, he won back-to-back titles by the same margin: 1634 points. He beat Beschen in '96 and Occy in '97. The three closest title challenges in history are all belong to Slater. In 2005 he won by 102 points, in 1995 he won by 80 points, and in 1998 he won by 38 points.

The ASP has awarded 33 world champions since they started this fabulous tour back in 1976. By country, it breaks down to 13 Australian titles, 13 USA Mainland titles, 5 Hawaiian titles, 1 South African title, and 1 British title (Martin Potter). You can look at it another way; there have been 8 different Australian world champions, 3 Mainland USA champions, 3 Hawaiian champions, 1 South African champion and 1 British champ. 7 Australians won 10 of the first 13 titles from 1976 to 1988, but the Americans have won 15 of the last 17 titles...that's if you consider the Hawaiians as Americans. Only 16 different surfers have won the title with 6 surfers winning it multiple times. 28 of the 33 titles awarded have been won by surfers who finished inside the Top 10 the previous year.

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