Well, if there were certain questions about what professional surfing needs, I think one was answered in resounding fashion in Peniche at the Rip Curl Pro Search Portugal:
No matter how many rotations Dane can get without a grab, or what tactics the Hobgoods can use to gain priority, or what board Kelly can fit into a chest-high pocket, surfing touches a very base part of our human makeup that of survival will he make it?
Let's look at the most exciting moments of the 2009 ASP Dream Tour season: throaty Kirra, hollow J-Bay, and even less than spectacular Teahupoo. Now add on super tubes at Supertubes. All under the lip affairs.
Mick Fanning cemented his lead in Portugal by dominating where it counts in the green room. He made his barrels. Yesterday saw three perfect tens (well, two perfect tens and Parko's 12) in man-eating, board breaking, eardrum puncturing do-or-die barrels.
Wildcard/underdog/showstealer, Owen Wright was ready to surf in a helmet today after yesterday's beating that claimed his ear and neck, but was advised not too. That kid has too long a career ahead of him to sustain a major setback at this stage. Hence, Mick walked to the final while Bede took out Parko.
After an amazing 9.5 tunnel exploration yesterday, Fanning went back to a slice and dice attack and to beat Bede today. The finals might have been kind of emotionally hollow had yesterday's waves not been so literally hollow.
The finals wouldn't have been nearly so dramatic without the excitement leading up to it. And for the fan, the average surfer, it was all about watching these guys get remarkable shacks in waves most of us would just write off as closeouts.
According to the press release, Fanning had this to say:
"Yesterday was one of the best days of competition I've ever seen and we all showed up today and had to adjust our frame of mind to deal with the in size and quality. I've been surfing conditions like this all summer at home so I knew what I had to do out there."
If you recall, he won the 2005 Search event at Reunion Island.
Parko is still in it as things go down to the wire. The World Title will be decided at Pipe for a change (the ASP is understandably excited and has a breakdown of the potential scenarios here.) And Pipe is a place know to get a kind of round!