After 11 seasons on tour, four runner-up world title finishes to his name, and not a single win this year on the ASP tour, Joel Parkinson has finally come out on top. The 31-year-old Australian took home his first ASP World Title on Friday after Kelly Slater was eliminated after the semifinal heat of the Billabong Pipeline Masters—and then went on to surf to a win for the event, as well.
Parko's surfing all season has been described as "deadly consistent," qualifying for no fewer than four finals and finishing no worse than 9th place all year. Heading into Pipeline, he was one of three with the chance to take home the tour title.
"Consistency paid off," Parkinson said after the win. "This is where I wanted to stand at the end of the year. This is what I've worked for my whole life. I can't describe what this feels like. I've had runner-ups and ups-and-downs. I've been to hell and back and it makes this so much sweeter."
Heading into Pipeline, Slater and Parko were neck-in-neck for the championship. Slater, surfing's oldest and youngest champ, was working toward his 12th ASP title. But after taking down his good friend Shane Dorian in the quarterfinals—and achieving a perfect 10 wave score from the judges—he was bested by Josh Kerr, a 28-year-old Australian, in the semis. (The question now: Will he retire?)
This year's Pipeline wasn't Parkinson's first shot at the championship, though. Back in 2009, he surfed (but lost) another title match at the famed Oahu break—against his good friend and fellow Australian, Mick Fanning, who, heading into Pipeline, was also vying for this year's first place spot.
By the final day, though, Fanning was out of the running—and when Parko surfed his final heat, it was Mick Fanning who was the first at the water to congratulate him.
"I felt like a champ today when I woke up," Parkinson said after the win. "I've not won an event this year, but this is where I wanted to stand at the end of the year. I can't describe what this feels like. It's everything you dream of."