21 July 2014
Reigning ASP world champion, Mick Fanning of Australia, took a giant step towards a fourth world title when he defeated compatriot Joel Parkinson in the final of the J- Bay Open in sensational waves at Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa on the weekend.
After a holding period, all the elements came together on Saturday to produce an epic finale in pumping 6-to-10 foot (2-3 metre) hollow waves.
Fanning was on fire from the outset of the title-decider, seamlessly threading together powerful rail work and deep tubes in the double-overhead waves to rack up a 17.00 point total in the first half of the 45-minute encounter.
Parkinson, the 2012 ASP world champion, and like Fanning a previous two-time winner at J-Bay, fought his way back into contention with rides of 7.43 and 6.17, but was still looking for 9.57 points from a final ride when time ran out.
“I never dreamed that I would get to surf a J-Bay final with Joel (Parkinson),” Fanning said on the podium afterwards.
“I’m so tired, but it’s a dream-come-true kind of day. I had a great start with that 9.00 ride, but there were still 40 minutes to go and anything could have happened.
“Joel is one of my favourite surfers and my best friend. We’ve known each other since we were kids.
“I’m so stoked, it was such an incredible day of waves and I’m just so thankful that I got to surf it. A big thanks to Cheron (Kraak), Koffie (Jacobs) and the ASP for bringing the event back to Jeffreys Bay.”
The victory, Fanning’s second of the season after he won at Bells Beach in April, moved him up to number three on the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) rankings behind Brazil’s Gabriel Medina and Parkinson.
Parkinson was gracious in defeat and equally complimentary about the quality of the surf at Supertubes.
‘An amazing heat’
“It was an amazing heat and Mick is such a good tactician,” he said. “I made a couple of bad decisions, and I just didn’t get the right waves.
“It would’ve been nice to get a win, but that was a brilliant day of surfing and it was so wonderful to be part of it. I feel like surfing won today. There was just so much good surfing and the waves were incredible.”
Another Aussie, Matt Wilkinson was eliminated by Parkinson in the first semi-final after the eventual runner-up posted a an 8.83 and backed that up with a perfect 10-point ride to leave his giant-killing compatriot needing to replace both his scores.
Wilkinson, who had previously dispatched 11-time ASP world champion Kelly Slater in round three and 2007 J-Bay winner Taj Burrow in the quarterfinals, fought back with a series of swooping turns on his backhand to earn a 9.77, but was ultimately still short of 9.07 points.
“I’m so stoked to have made it to the semi-finals,” Wilkinson said. “I came into this competition with almost no results so far this year, but I feel that I’ve improved in every heat. It feels really great to have so much support, especially for the goofy- footers, who have done so well at this event.”
In the second semi-final, Owen Wright built on his victory over ASP world number one Gabriel Medina in their quarter-final encounter, to take an early lead over fellow Australian Fanning. However, the reigning world champion took control with rides of 7.17 and 8.0 before posting an excellent 9.00.
Despite Wright earning a 7.23 to get out of a combination situation, he still needed a near-perfect 9.77 when the siren sounded.
‘That really set me back’
“I chose a couple of wrong waves at the start of the heat and that really set me back,” Wright said aftewards.
“Mick was just clinical in his approach to the heat. I feel so privileged just to be here, competing at J-Bay. It has been by far the best event for me. I’m loving it.”
ASP Heritage Series
Legendary surfers Tom Curren of the USA and Mark Occhilupo of Australia took to the water in front of an enthralled crowd at Jeffreys Bay for the first nstalment of the ASP Heritage Series, which is designed to celebrate and honour the foundational contributors to the sport of surfing by showcasing rematches between iconic surfers.
Curren, a three-time ASP world champion (1985, 1986, 1990) and Occhilupo, the 1999 ASP world champion and winner of the first ASP event in J-Bay in 1984, did battle in the epic conditions.
With Curren posting a perfect 10, he put the Australian in a combination situation, and even though Occhilupo took a final long ride down point he was unable to post the excellent scores needed to take victory.
‘ The waves were so good’
“I got a little carried away during that 10 point wave. The waves were so good,” Curren said.
“It’s Sonny’s [Miller, the renowned surf filmmaker who passed away earlier this week] birthday today, so I just want to dedicate this to him.
“I love J-Bay, the waves are amazing and the people are wonderful. It’s so great to watch all the guys compete here in such good conditions.”
‘That was sensational’
“I had a blast out there. I think me and Tom put on a show,” Occhilupo said. “That was sensational. It was all about surfing J-Bay in all its perfection and putting on a great show for the crowd.
“Tom ripped and it was also great fun. I think the ASP Heritage Series will really grow legs. I look forward to seeing other legends match up.”