Californian Dreaming: Mick and Joel Conquer the American All Stars
By Luke Kennedy | 21 September 2011
Is Parko's 2011 world title campaign back on track? Pics: Luke Kennedy (left), Joli (right)
Conditions were as good as they’ve looked all event this morning. The slate clean split peaks offered good scoring potential both ways but the rights were still the pick. Taj Burrow went straight to work against Kai Otton. Taj’s patented tail whip could be heard cracking all over the lineup but aside from a few air reverse sign-offs, he wasn’t really going for anything huge. It seems Taj, who has finished second twice at Trestles, has learnt that victory in WT events is often a result of energy conservation and deft strategy as opposed to simply paddling out and trying to tear the house down every heat. Of course, he’s arrived at this conclusion by observing Kelly.
“Kelly seems to do it pretty well. He’s got the formula down for ripping here.” You don’t have to be the best surfer the whole event. You only have to win each heat. He does that so well. I’ve been studying him and I’m just going to try and do what he does because he’s really good at it.”
Team Slater, bro Stephen in from a sesh (left), and King Kelly keeps an eye on the sets (right). Pics: Luke Kennedy
Meanwhile Kelly showed no sympathy for last minute call up Tommy Whittaker, nailing an 8.77 in the first minute and backing it up with another high eight. At 72.5 kg’s, Kelly is not a big guy but his power to weight ratio remains one of the defining characteristics of his surfing. Kelly is simply hitting the lip harder and with more speed, and as a consequence he can consistently post big scores with two-to-three turns. He swapped the five fin for his epoxy thruster this heat and rode it in goofy just for giggles. Post-heat, Kelly was super- relaxed but the moment a wave was ridden between Owen Wright and John John Florence, his steely gaze shifted towards the water.
Owen Wright takes a break from scoring 9.77s via backhand re-entire and throws up a straight air. Pic: ASP
“ We’re not doing this interview until we watch this wave. Unless you want me to commentate it?” he quipped to the pack of Hurley blue-men with cameras. Always the consummate entertainer and statesmen, Kelly went on to commentate the wave, playfully toss a hat to the crowd at the urging of interviewer Peter King and then walse over to another crew and answer questions about his feelings on the impact of the Japanese Tsunami. Panache was the word, which came to mind.
While Kelly was talking world issues, John John Florence and Owen Wright were engaged in what commentator, Rabbit Bartholomew, called “one of the heats of the year”. The Big O was sticking his hyper-extended tail-tweaker snaps, while John John hit the air reverse button. In the closing minutes Owen was still chasing a 9.06. He proved unequivocally that he can perform under pressure by dialling a 9.77 at a time when he most needed it. Significantly Owen’s board didn’t leave the face for his high nine, indicating that big scores are still there if the power turns are precise. When asked if he liked being pushed, Owen was adamant he did, “ it forced me to perform and really put every turn on the sweet spot.” Knowing he can pull out nines at critical moments is only going to enhance his confidence. “ It is hard to need a nine like that and go out and get it… but I’m definitely going to take that in to the next few heats and roll with it and it’s good to know I can perform like that.”
"I'd like to thank me my guy, Mum and Dad, and Quiky for the cool 300 G last week". Pic: Luke Kennedy
Brett Simpson and Parko paddled out like a couple of angry pugilists and threw knock-out punches from the get go. Parko opened with an 8.67 and then seconds later Simpo’ slugged him back with a 9.13. Swooping through turns like one of the graceful pelicans, which frequent the Trestles lineup, Parko bagged an 8.33 and left Apple-Pie-American Brett to play catch up for the rest of the heat. Simpson was relentless in his pursuit of Parko, riding four separate waves, which featured muscled-up fin blasts and smooth reverses. However, despite the valiant chase, his 7.67 was still 0.2 short of the score he needed. “ There must have been an Aussie in the judging panel,” suggested one of the disgruntled members of the American media. Meanwhile Parko was on his way to lunch wearing a grin like he’d enjoyed an American for an entrée.
Future wold champion Julian Wilson carve around some kelp at Trestles. Pic: ASP
Matt Wilkinson’s and Julian Wilson’s heavily anticipated heat fizzed, as both surfers struggled to really nail a big clean air in the ruffling crosshore. Wilson proved he has the maturity to surf smart and do what’s required, when he took off late in the heat and surfed within himself to secure victory.
The Fanning Knox encounter was more engaging. They were side-by-side with microphones plastered to their ears prior to the heat. Mick had just completed his famed pre-heat psyche up and looked to be in the kind of zone only world champs know about. Despite the increased bulk, Mick has lost none of his natural agility and found his way through sections most would have been caught behind on. “He surfing so quick, like ninja,” marvelled the Japanese filmer next to me as Mick slashed through sections like a lawn-clipper.
Speed plus power was always the equation that would win against power alone and Mick finished just over a point in front. Post-heat he talked about grabbing one of Kolohe Andino’s Lost Mayhem’s for the heat because he regular DHD felt a little sluggish. Mick is one of several surfers, including Julian Wilson, who are convinced that a bit of “Mayhem” will help them win at Trestles.
UPCOMING HURLEY PRO AT TRESTLES ROUND 5 MATCH-UPS:
HURLEY PRO AT TRESTLES ROUND 4 RESULTS:
HURLEY PRO AT TRESTLES ROUND 3 RESULTS: