Crown is no Pipe dream
Parko backs mate to claim maiden world title
RETIRING Joel Parkinson says it's a matter of when, not if, Julian Wilson joins him as a world surfing champion.
The Queensland pair will brave the famed Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii’s season-ending World Surf League event from Sunday morning.
If Wilson, equal second on the series ladder, wins the Billabong Pipe Masters and leader Gabriel Medina doesn’t make the final the 30-year-old will win a maiden world title. Parkinson will farewell the tour after 18 years at the break he conquered to win his lone title six years ago.
Runner-up on four other occasions, Gold Coast’s Parkinson knows how hard it is to win one but says Wilson is ready.
“He’d make small errors and it’d cost him a heat,” the 37-year-old said. “But his consistency, maturity, mental toughness ... he’s ironed out the brain fart moments in a heat where it goes bad.
“Whether it happens this year or next; he’s in his prime and I think between 30-33 is the best time when you still have your youth but you’ve been on tour for some time.”
Wilson won the seasonopener on the Gold Coast despite battling a serious shoulder injury and his round nine win in France shot him into serious title contention.
He is the only non-Brazilian to win a leg this year, with Medina and Filipe Toledo (equal second with Wilson) both more than capable of carving up the Hawaiian break to secure the title.
But the unpredictable nature of Pipe means there are no certainties, while the withdrawal of defending world champion John John Florence – he had hoped to return from injury at his home event – is another plot twist.
Parkinson can win a fourth Triple Crown of Surfing –a revered side-event made up of two lower-level Hawaiian lead-up events and the Pipe Masters – and ideally help his mate out by defeating a Brazilian on the way next week.