The 2012 Asp World Surfing Championships concludes today at Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu at the 42nd Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons. American Kelly Slater is vying for his unprecedented 12th world title.
Slater, 40, won his first world title in 1992 at the age of 20. He famously dueled with Kauai’s Andy Irons in the early 2000s – a stretch that saw Andy win 3 ASP World titles in a row from 2002 to 2004.
Irons tragically passed away on November 2, 2010 in a Dallas, TX hotel room. Tarrant County Medical Examiners concluded Irons died from cardiac arrest with a secondary cause listed as acute mixed drug ingestion. He had been traveling from Puerto Rico back to his home in Kauai.
Slater is currently ranked 2nd in the world behind Australia’s Joel Parkinson. A world tour veteran since 1999, Parko, as he’s known, has never won a world title, finishing runner-up in 2002, 2004, 2009 and 2011.
The 2012 ASP World Tour has been a roller coaster of drama between Parkinson, Slater, two-time World Championship Mick Fanning and tour newcomers, Hawaii’s John-John Florence and Brazil’s Gabriel Medina.
Slater is famous not only for his career success but also his knack for last minute victories in most any wave conditions – making him a perennial favorite.
“There’s always pressure, mostly from myself, but I feel good heading into this event,” Slater said. “I love Pipeline and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Parkinson is carrying momentum and an underdog fan base to the Pipe Masters, pro surfing’s most coveted title and the third and final stop of the 30th Annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing in Hawaii.
“I’ve been coming to Hawaii for most of my life and it feels like a second home to me,” Parkinson said. “At this point, it’s impossible not to think about the title race, but the best you can do is focus on the event in front of you. I’ve never won the Pipe Masters, and my goal here is to win the event.”
The webcast runs live today at Vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com
– James Sullivan