It was no easy road to the top of the podium, but for defending world champion Joel Parkinson winning the Oakley Bali Pro on Wednesday was both well earned and well appreciated.
"It lived up to the hype," said Parkinson, referring to the much anticipated world tour's return to Indonesia. "The guys were going absolutely crazy. It's one of the best events I've ever been involved in. There's such a good vibe around the event, plenty of good karma, it's been amazing. It definitely didn't disappoint and I think it needs to be on the schedule from now on."
In a day that saw onshore winds start blowing by the time the first semifinal hit the water, the final day at Keramas was more a game of strategy than performance. Ultimately it was Parkinson that was able to read the conditions better than anyone, although to his credit, Tahiti's Michel Bourez, appearing in the first final of his career, was no slouch either.
Whereas Tuesday was dominated by perfect tubes and perfect scores, full-rail, gouging turns were what the judges were looking for in the tricky four- to six-foot conditions during Wednesday's final. The final was a low scoring affair with Bourez leading throughout most of it. In a last ditch effort, Parkinson posted a seven-point ride in the dying minutes to steal the lead away from the powerful Tahitian.
"It wasn't the greatest of finals. I just figured if I got that best wave at the end I had a chance," said Parkinson. "Michel was probably the most in-form surfer of the whole event I thought."
"It's really good just to make the final, the first final ever, I just feel great," said Bourez. "This event has been great for everyone, especially here in Bali. I'm very proud to put Tahiti on the podium."
Parkinson's win slingshots him up to third in the world, behind Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater, respectively. The 2013 world title race has very much tightened up. While everybody expected Fanning -- who lost in the quarterfinals to Bourez -- Parkinson and Slater in the mix, who would have thought that rookie upstart Nat Young would be sitting sixth in the world and looking quite capable of climbing higher still? Finishing third in Bali, Young is sitting on a number of good results, and finds himself in the mix with some seriously big names.
"It would have been nice to make the final, but I'm stoked to get third and I'm stoked for Michel," said Young.
After a flurry of events in the South Pacific and Indonesia, the world tour contingent will finally be able to return to their respective corners of the globe and get some rest. The next event, the Billabong Pro Tahiti, doesn't get underway until Aug. 15.
"This gives me heaps of motivation moving forward," said Parkinson, looking toward the second half of the year. "I've had two bad results and I knew I could change it around, but I'm glad I did it now rather than later. This win is so special because the event had such a good vibe and such good energy about it."
OAKLEY PRO BALI FINAL RESULTS:
1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.86
2 . Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.67
OAKLEY PRO BALI SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.43 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 5.33
SF 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.50 def. Nat Young (USA) 14.97
OAKLEY PRO BALI QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.17 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 3.13
QF 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) 17.44 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.83
QF 3: Nat Young (USA) 17.03 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.57
QF 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.27 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.50
ASP WCT TOP 5 (After Oakley Pro Bali):
1. Mick Fanning (AUS) 31,400 points
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 30,950
3. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 26,700
4. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 25,200
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 24,900