PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii – After nine events on the 2009 ASP Dream Tour, the race for the ASP World Title will culminate in a showdown between two lifelong friends at the final event of the season, the Billabong Pipeline Masters from December 8 – 20, 2009.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, former ASP World Champion (2007) and current ASP World No. 1, will face Gold Coast stable mate and current ASP World No. 2, Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, in the hunt for the 2009 ASP World Title as the two battle a minefield of the world’s best surfers and Pipe specialists at the Billabong Pipeline Masters.
“It’s been a few years since the ASP Title has come down to Pipe and I’m really stoked that it’s between myself and Joel (Parkinson),” Fanning said. “I guess it’s like a dream come true coming down to Pipeline and I’m really excited. There isn’t going to be any sand on the reef and hopefully we get a couple of really good days.”
Although Parkinson mounted an impressive assault throughout the first half of the year, an ankle injury sustained while training in Bali saw the Australian’s lead dwindle before being overtaken by Fanning, who has won three of the last four events.
“I’ve built up momentum throughout the back half of the year starting at Trestles, and I’m in the lead,” Fanning said. “I guess all of the pressure is on Joel now because he needs to get a third. I’m just concentrating on myself and am going to try and make as many heats as possible and make it as hard as possible for him.”
If Fanning’s incendiary performances this season are any indication, the lightning-fast natural-footer will be a force to be reckoned with heading into the final event, but Pipeline’s elusive and at-times dangerous nature will ultimately decide the victor.
“I guess surfing Pipeline is like meeting a really big guy in a dark alley and sometimes you escape and sometimes you can’t,” Fanning said. “It’s intimidating. Everyone’s on the beach watching and you’ve got to go.”
Although Fanning possesses a solid ratings’ lead, Parkinson remains collected heading into the final bout of the year, and will draw upon his preternatural affinity with the wave at Pipeline to put forth his best effort.
“It’s definitely exciting to see the ASP title come down to Pipe,” Parkinson said. “Mick (Fanning) was in form all throughout Sunset and I feel like I’m in form as well and it’s going to be a great match-up. Pipeline is one of the most awesome waves ever. It’s close to the beach. It’s a natural amphitheatre and it’s only 50 yards out and you’re surfing a wave that could you, so it’s pretty exciting.”
In addition to hunting down his inaugural ASP World Title, Parkinson is also out to defend his Vans Triple Crown Title – a feat made easier with an emphatic win at Sunset Beach yesterday.
“I’m excited to defend my Vans Triple Crown title,” Parkinson said. “After losing Haleiwa in the Quarterfinals, I thought I’d have to win Sunset and my focus wasn’t 100 percent on the Triple Crown anymore, it was more on Pipe, but now that I’ve won Sunset I’d love to win the Vans Triple Crown again.”
The scenarios for the 2009 ASP World Title heading into the Billabong Pipeline Masters are as follows:
- Fanning finishes 33rd through a 9th at Pipeline, Parkinson needs a 3rd or better to overtake.
- Fanning finishes 5th at Pipeline, Parkinson needs a 2nd or better to overtake.
- Fanning finishes 3rd at Pipeline, Parkinson needs win the event to overtake.
- If Fanning finishes 2nd or better at Pipeline, he will clinch the 2009 ASP World Title.
BILLABONG PIPELINE MASTERS ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Jihad Khodr (BRA) vs. Gavin Gillette (HAW)
Heat 2: Gabe Kling (USA) vs. Kalani Chapman (HAW)
Heat 3: Andy Irons (HAW) vs. Marcus Hickman (HAW)
Heat 4: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 5: Nathaniel Curran (USA) vs. Liam McNamara (HAW)
Heat 6: David Weare (ZAF) vs. Hank Gaskell (HAW)
Heat 7: Bruce Irons (HAW) vs. Reed McIntosh (HAW)
Heat 8: Nic Muscroft (AUS) vs. Sunny Garcia (HAW)
Heat 9: Michael Picon (FRA) vs. Manoa Drollet (PYF)
Heat 10: Shane Dorian (HAW) vs. Kamalei Alexander (HAW)
Heat 11: Dayyan Neve (AUS) vs. Jonah Morgan (HAW)
Heat 12: Luke Stedman (AUS) vs. Flynn Novak (HAW)
Heat 13: Dustin Barca (HAW) vs. Sion Miloski (HAW)
Heat 14: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Danny Fuller (HAW)
Heat 15: Jay Thompson (AUS) vs. Mason Ho (HAW)
Heat 16: Phillip MacDonald (AUS) vs. Jamie O’Brien (HAW)