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Broken board dents Parko's world title bid
Will Swanton
17:38 AEST Thu Dec 13 2012

Joel Parkinson's attempt to stare down Kelly Slater and claim his first world surfing championship has been complicated by his favourite board being snapped in half by the reef at Hawaii's Banzai Pipeline.

Parkinson and Slater are set for an electrifying duel with huge waves forecast to hit the North Shore of Oahu on Friday (Saturday AEDT).

The 31-year-old Australian reached the quarter-finals of the season-ending Billabong Pipe Masters with a rollicking fourth-round heat last weekend but it came at a high cost. His preferred stick was broken beyond repair.

"It was my favourite board, that one. The one I've used all year," said Parkinson.

Parkinson could ride a rusty gate and still score an eight. Every surfer, however, has a board they cherish more than all others.

Without his favourite slab of fibreglass and given his rival is the most ruthless competitor on tour, Parkinson faces a monumental challenge.

If they lose in the same round at Pipe, the American will snatch a 12th world championship in what's expected to be his farewell to fulltime competition.

Parkinson must finish one place ahead of him.

The dream scenario is a man-on-man final for the ultimate prize.

"Joel is cool and and he's casual and I cannot tell you how much I'd love to see him win," Australia's former world champion, Mark Occhilupo, told AAP.

"You're not going to find a better bloke anywhere on this Earth.

This year, I've seen him surf better than he ever has. It's been amazing what he's done, it's like he's taken his surfing up another 40 per cent.

"His surfing is all-time but it's pretty hard to guess about what's going to happen.

"Joel and Kelly, it's hard to separate the two. If they're in rhythm, and if the surf turns on like we're hearing it will, it's going to be sensational.

"We all want them to meet in the final."

Slater played guitar and sang at a concert at the Turtle Bay Resort while the event went on hold this week. Golf has been high on the agenda. The stress does not appear to be killing him.

"We've had enough time to think about it," he said.

"We're trying to put it out of our heads as much as possible because when you're out in the water, if you're thinking about a world title, it's taking away from what you need your mind to be on.

It's Pipe. You have to be on your toes. Which way are the waves going? Do you have to paddle deep? How's the lineup look? How far in on the reef are you? How big is this set going to be? Where's the guy you're surfing against?

"You have to be clear-minded enough to make good decisions every time there's a peak coming at you.

"There's enough to think about in the present moment without worrying too much about the bigger picture."


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