Add Joel Parkinson to the long list of Kelly Slater's rivals.
After barely losing to Parkinson for the 2012 ASP World Title, Slater began his 2013 campaign by unseating his new nemesis on Wednesday in a thrilling 40-minute final round of the Quiksilver Pro Australia that saw the two best surfers in the world trade near-perfect rides in pumping six-foot surf. This was Slater's 52nd world tour win and his fourth win at the world-famous sand-bottom point break of Kirra on Australia's Gold Coast.
"It was an amazing day, congratulations to Kelly. This is why we surf, this is why we compete," Parkinson said in defeat.
In the first three minutes of the final the defending champ struck first, posting a score of 8.67. Slater countered with a 6.83 followed almost immediately by an 8.73-point ride. Twenty minutes later Slater added a near-perfect 9.83 to his score, essentially putting the title out of reach. Pulling in deep, he sat on the foam ball of the tube, came flying out and smashed a huge, full-rail layback turn. After a brief lull, Parkinson bagged a respectable 8.80 in a last-gasp effort, but Slater's lead proved insurmountable.
"The top three seeds went one, two, three, and I was expecting that I was going to have to get through Joel and Mick," Slater said. "I really wanted to surf Kirra, and it was really sick. There were some really good waves out there today."
In the semifinals, Parkinson opened with a 10-point ride and made short work of Michel Bourez who finished third, the best finish in Bourez's career thus far. Slater went back and forth with Mick Fanning in semifinal No. 2, only reaching the final with a last-minute 10-point ride.
"I want to dedicate this Daisy Merrick and the Merrick family and also Michael Peterson." Slater said. Seven-year-old Daisy Merrick died last month after a battle with cancer, and many in the surfing community helped to raise funds for her care.