The Big Game of Surfing: Pipeline Masters

Riding gnarly waves, surfer Joel Parkinson won this year's Pipe Masters.

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Pipe Masters

Riding gnarly waves, surfer Joel Parkinson won this year’s Pipe Masters.

by Jonathan Spielman, Staff Writer & Surfer

Football’s Big Game is surfing’s Billabong Pipeline Masters:  the biggest event of the season. The Pipe Masters is the most prestigious event on tour, and to be invited one must be in the top twenty in the rankings — in the world. To do this: one must compete in other events in the tour and, quite simply, win. A lot.  
The Pipe Masters is broken down into three different events on three different beaches, giving the “Triple Crown” its name. The first beach is Haleiwa, then Sunset, and then Pipeline. The format of each event is a slightly different. Haleiwa and Sunset have four surfers in the water (two in blue and two in red) the surfers get a 30 minute ‘heat’ (performance duration). But once they advance to Pipeline/Backdoor, it’s only two people in the water — one in black and the other in white. 
Surfing the Triple Crown is all about strategies, just being two yards too far in the water could mean being slammed by sets of waves. Some surfers, those who do not surf Hawaii’s breaks, rely on other surfers as reference points, so local surfers will paddle competitors away to prevent an unfair advantage.  
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, wins the pipeline masters against Josh Kerr in the final and claimed the world tile. Joel made a incredible comeback from his previous year’s performances: setbacks ranging from a lack of focus to injury and surgery. Only “Parko” (Parkinson) and Kelly Slater (USA) 40 11-time (WCT) champion were in the running for the world title, and Parko overcame injuries and worries to pull through.
According to ASP’s (The Association of Surfing Professionals) website: “Right now, Pipe Master, World Title, it’s all surreal,” Parkinson said, “I figured it was going to be a pressure cooker like a few years ago. I knew there was nothing I could do about it. It was about what I had to do, not about what he had to do. I thought, surely he (Slater) has got to peak because he had that heat with Shane (Dorian) and I knew Kerr is a danger man for him. When Kerr got that one, I felt like I was going to physically throw up. I couldn’t control my emotions at that point.”
Even though emotions were stirred-up, Parko had a fun year and that was his main goal after the past two years. Parko’s win was supported by everyone in his life and he felt that he was in the right state of mind. Parkinson, according to ASP’s website, said, “One day you wake up feeling good the next day you wake up feeling like a loser. This morning I felt like a Champion when I woke up. Like Andy (Irons) always said ‘I got this, huh?’ I dedicate this to my family, Dad who used to take me to contests when I was 10, my wife and my mom and kids, this is all for us.”