ASP World Tour Year End Review // Part 1

The Hunt for the Title From Snapper to Tahiti

Taj Burrow - Winner of the first event of 2012, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.

It’s been less than a week since the spray settled at the Billabong Pipeline Masters and Joel Parkinson won his long anticipated ASP World Title, yet talk of the 2013 season is already in focus as a new Top 34 has emerged from the One World Ranking. But before we take a look at what’s new, let’s take a look back at the year that was.

The 10-stop 2012 ASP World Tour was filled with stellar performances, an all-time swell at Fiji, a heated title race, and a judging controversy. All the ingredients one needs for quality surf entertainment.

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Starting out in Australia, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast is always the first stop on the Dream Tour. For the second year in a row, the Superbank at Snapper Rocks offered up poor conditions for the world’s best and small wave skills were put to the test. The three foot windswell was negotiated well by  Parko, Slater, Jordy Smith, and Josh Kerr, but it was no surprise to find small wave wizards Taj Burrow and Adriano De Souza the last men standing in the final. Although both of them surfed equally well, Taj got the nod from the judges and posted the first win of the year.

Taj Burrow won a closely fought battle with Adriano De Souza to take the season opener and an early ratings lead.

Final Day Highlight – Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach – The second stop was the last event of the Australian leg of the tour at Bells Beach in Victoria. The Rip Curl Pro celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the Bells contest and was rewarded with picture-perfect point surf. The “Bowl” section of Bells allowed for some crisp rail work on the outside followed up by an intense air section in the shorebreak. Fanning and Slater carved there way to the final heat where Slater found himself combo-ed by Mick. Slater then punted an amazing Hail Mary 360 air that was arguably the best air on tour in 2012. After a full rotation in the air, Slater stomped the landing in the flats to receive a perfect 10 for just one epic maneuver. But after a few more exchanges on set waves it was not enough and Fanning went on to ring the Bell and take the ratings lead.

Mick Fanning's precise rail carves fit perfectly with the Bells Bowl waves on offer.
Kelly Slater's unbelievable 360 air in the finals earned a perfect 10 from the judges and was easily the best air of the year on tour.

Final Day Highlights – Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

Kelly’s 10 Point 360 Air with New York Comparison and Interview

Billabong Rio Pro – Stop #3 was in Brazil for the Billabong Rio Pro. The waves were the smallest and worst quality on tour for 2012. There were so many complaints and questions as to why the event is held in Rio each year and not down the coast at better breaks, that hopefully Billabong will get there act together and showcase some real Brazilian surf by holding the event in the Santa Catarina region. Nonetheless, John John Florence went on to win his first ASP event with a lofty backside 360 air. He defeated Parko in the final, yet the second place finish for Parko would mark a new level of consistency from the Gold Coast native that would see him with the World Title in hand at the end of the year.

World Tour rookie John John Florence claimed his first WT victory at the Billabong Rio Pro.
John John and Parko on the podium in Rio. This was the first of 4 final appearances from Parko in 2012!

Volcom Fiji Pro – The highly anticipated return of a World Tour event in Fiji was realized when Volcom stepped up to the plate for the Volcom Fiji Pro, the 4th stop of the 2012 season. It was as if Cloudbreak was waiting for the best to return as an ALL-TIME swell hit during the waiting period. History was made as the contest was called off due to too big of a swell and the best big wave surfers in the world were cut loose to push the limits of paddle-in big wave surfing. Luckily, Volcom made a smart move by streaming the free-surf webcast live and surf fans were glued to their computers and mobile devices as the big wave elite charged legit 20ft + barrels. Mick Fanning, Parko, John John, Damien Hobgood, and Pat Gudauskas were the only World Tour surfers to tackle the heaving barrels and join Mark Healy, Reef McIntosh, Kohl Christensen, Ramon Navarro and many more.

When the contest resumed the next day, Cloudbreak had dropped just enough to allow some of the best waves on tour in many years. Slater and Gabriel Medina made the final, with Slater again scoring the best wave of the entire year with a double overhead plus tube ride followed by a steezy top carve to ballistic backside snap through the spit. To say it was impressive does not do it justice. It was insane and unfathomable. No one in the world could have done that on that wave but Kelly Slater. Period.

One of the biggest days in Cloudbreak's history couldn't stop the world's best big wave surfers from charging legit 20ft barrels. That's Mark Healy's 9'6" gun in the lip.
Reef McIntosh caught one of the biggest waves of the day and one of the biggest barrels ever captured on film.
When the swell dropped a bit the next day, the contest was on and Kelly Slater dominated his opponents for the win.
Slater and Gabriel Medina share the podium at the Volcom Fiji Pro.

Final Day Highlights – Volcom Fiji Pro

The Day of Days – Cloudbreak

Billabong Pro Tahiti – The fifth event was also in the South Pacific. Teahupo’o once again delivered backless barrels for the Billabong Tahiti Pro. While it wasn’t the Code Red swell we saw last year, there were still some 6ft tubes breaking below sea-level. Fanning and Parko found themselves in the final where Mick pulled out an amazing last minute win and found himself in the ratings lead again.

Mick Fanning pulled an amazing come from behind victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. Fanning was combo-ed with only minutes to go when he snagged this bomb, and another similar beauty to take the win over Parko.
As you can see here, Fanning was over the moon about his buzzer-beater victory.

Final Day Highlights – Billabong Tahiti Pro

Check out second part of this blog – ASP World Tour Year End Review // PART 2 tomorrow!

 

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