Parko may yet snare crown

WILL this be Parko’s year to win a world title?

That’s the big question in the wake of Joel Parkinson’s convincing win at Bells Beach over fellow Cooly mate Mick Fanning.

Joel has come so close to capturing the number one prize in professional surfing, finishing runner-up three times.

He almost pulled it off in his first year on the ASP World Tour in 2002 but came up against a rampaging Andy Irons who then dominated for the next three years.

Joel had another go in 2004 and again fell bridesmaid to best mate AI.

However, it was 2009 that Joel had it in the bag, winning three of the 10 CTs at the halfway mark and appeared to be home and hosed.

Then bad luck struck in Bali trying an ambitious air in average waves at Canggu, consequently breaking his ankle and the dream shattered.

Showing that he was a good sportsman with some urging from one of his heroes Mark Occhilupo, he and the other Cooly kid, Dean Morrison congratulated Fanning on his second world title.

As Kelly says, you have to finish off strongly and that’s exactly what Mick did with some sympathy for Joel.

Last year was, excuse the pun, a watershed year for Parko who had the biggest highs – the birth of a new son – and the biggest lows, losing his team mate Andy Irons and almost losing his foot in a horrible suck-up backwash wipeout.

Incredibly testing times for the happy-go-lucky super-smooth stylist who was born in Nambour, learning how to surf on the Sunny Coast where his uncle Darryl had made a huge name for the Parkinson family.

When the clan moved to the Gold Coast roughly the same time that the Fannings moved up from Ballina, it was game on for the new Cooly kids.

Together with an established Morrison, they created the new wave of professional surfing, following in the footsteps of Michael “MP” Peterson, Peter “PT” Townend and Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew.

PT was Coolangatta’s first world professional champion in 1976, followed by Rabbit in 1978.

Had MP gone to South Africa in 1977, he may have won the world title from Shaun Tomson.

MP is in that special class of pro surfers not to win a world title like Bobby Brown, Wayne Lynch, Terry Fitzgerald, Simon Anderson and Cheyne Horan.

The last 10 years of world titles have been dominated by only three champions – Irons, Slater and Fanning.

It’s a bit too early to make a call on 2011 but my money is on Joel and it’s not an each-way bet.

Next ASP world title event is Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, for the Billabong Rio Pro on May 11-22.

The 2011 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach will go down as one of the best to date with consistent surf over the full six days of competition.

It couldn’t have been dialled in better, while the 50th anniversary was a bit of a fizzy, the Bells’ boomers certainly made up for the lack of celebrations.

The Chiko Alley Classic is on this weekend at Currumbin Alley, hosted by the Alley Boardriders and SQ.

There were a host of highlights during Bells – too numerous to mention here but many will live long in our memories.

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