What: Billabong Pro Mundaka, ASP World Tour event #9 Where: Mundaka, Euskadi/Spain When: September 30 - October 12, 2008
Former ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood (USA) defeated Joel Parkinson (AUS) in three-foot barreling waves at the Billabong Pro Mundaka this weekend to claim his first ASP World Tour victory in four years.
The heat was a déjà vu affair of a 2004 final they shared in Japan with Hobgood garnering a last minute win over Parkinson in the dying seconds of the heat. “If I was Joel I would want to kill me right now,” Hobgood said. “I honestly don’t know how that happened. Some things are just meant to be. I’ve had a very difficult year. I probably struggled with my surfing more than I should have, but that’s life. You get older and life throws curve balls at you and that’s what makes this feeling right now so good.”
Despite opening the heat with a near-perfect 9.93, Hobgood was trailing Parkinson by 5.90 points with 15 seconds to go. With a set approaching, Parkinson took the first wave in an effort to increase his lead. Hobgood snuck into a small barrel on the wave behind it, earned an 8.57 and won the heat.
“Me and Joel were looking at that last wave and he was thinking about it hard,” Hobgood said. “I just made sure he was going to go or I was going to go. I didn’t know there was another one behind it, but I did hear a couple of whistles and turned around and saw the wave. I knew it was my last chance. I put my head down and didn’t even look at the wave and paddled to the shoulder as hard as I could because I didn’t want to get stuck behind it. I saw Joel in the peripheral and just threaded the needle. I could have been a little bit greedier, but I knew if I got a barrel and rode the rest of the wave I’d have a good chance.”
Hobgood moves to ASP World No. 6 with the result today. Parkinson moves to ASP World No. 3. The final was Hobgood’s second this season – he lost to Slater in Fiji – and Parkinson’s first. “I’m just stoked it was a good final,” Hobgood said. “Parko went mad on his waves and I just had a chance at the end. I think it was a good final for both of us. I’m just stoked Mundaka broke for three days.”
Despite having an amazingly consistent year, Parkinson was unable to claim the victory that has eluded him for over two years. “That was really frustrating,” Parkinson said. “He got the best waves in that heat and I got the scraps. I was holding on to a thin lead and it slipped away from me as soon as I turned around and saw that last wave coming.”
Like many of the top-seeded surfers, Parkinson entered the event disenchanted with the season given nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater’s supremacy. Parkinson’s interest piqued as he found himself at the pointy end of the Billabong Pro Mundaka draw. “I was kind of excited,” Parkinson said. “I wanted to win one. I hadn’t won one in a while so I was going to try to.”
Despite the loss, Parkinson was gracious in defeat – giving credit to Hobgood for his impressive surfing throughout the event. “He deserved it,” Parkinson said. “He ripped this week. Sometimes you come to an event and some people just get suited to them and this event really suited him. Everything he touched turned to gold and his surfing just really flowed this week.”
But it was Kelly Slater, 36, grabbing the headlines this weekend after winning a record ninth ASP World Title after advancing out of Round 3 of the Billabong Pro Mundaka. Slater came into the event needing an equal ninth finish to clinch the title, which he secured by beating local wildcard Eneko Acero.
“It’s going to take a little while to sink in,” Slater said when mobbed at the water’s edge. “I’m probably going to have to call home and talk to family for it to really hit me.”
After winning his first ASP World Tour title in 1992 and claiming five titles in a row from 1994 to 1998, Slater went into semi-retirement at age 26 citing burnout and lack of motivation. He returned to the tour full-time in 2003, lost a heart-wrenching title race to Andy Irons (HAW) that same year, and wasn’t able to reclaim the crown until 2005. Slater cruised to title No. 8 in 2006, finished World No. 3 in 2007 and is once again World No. 1 after winning his ninth ASP World Title on Friday.
Billabong Pro Mundaka Final Results: Final: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 18.50 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.83
Billabong Pro Mundaka Semifinal Heat Results: Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.80 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.50 Heat 2: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.66 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 6.70
Billabong Pro Mundaka Quarterfinal Heat Results: Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.34 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 6.17 Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.83 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 7.40 Heat 3: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.34 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 8.10 Heat 4: Luke Stedman (AUS) 13.16 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.24
ASP World Tour Top 10 after Stop No. 9 of 11 1. Kelly Slater (USA) 8042 points 2. Taj Burrow (AUS) 6324 points 3. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6180 points 4. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 5990 points 5. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 5748 points 6. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 5760 points 7. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 5730 points 8. Mick Fanning (AUS) 5310 points 9. Bobby Martinez (USA) 5282 points 10. Luke Stedman (AUS) 4696 points