Josh Kerr Beats Parko On One Rudder At the Champions Trophy
Didn't see that coming.
It's a good job the myriad of betting sites didn't offer odds on the Four Seasons Maldives Champions Trophy, or we'd be out of pocket.
Real estate near the beach, and Joel Parkinson winning in four foot rights on a single fin would, until today, have been our tips for safe bets, but Josh Kerr proved us wrong by nosing ahead of Parko on the line. Sultans was the racetrack, and despite uncharacteristic Maldivian gloom above, the waves were speedy and hollow, offering competitors ample opportunity to showcase what's possible on modern, slimline single rudder crafts.
Kerrzy's contemporary take on a classic vessel.
It was supposed to be a field of six lining up on the single fin start line, but unfortunately the second best named Brazilian in surf (Pedro Scooby being, undoubtedly, the first) Wiggoly Dantes got stitched up by the old "six months" left on the passport trick and couldn't attend. Therefore it was Joel, Josh, Matt Wilko, Kai Lenny and local wildcard Mohammed "Pelé" Favaz who took to the water on day one of competition. Wilko and Pelé were gifted walk throughs for their first round due to Wiggoly's absence, and in the other heat Goldy duo Joel and Josh dealt with the world's most fab multi-boarder Kai Lenny.
Wilko and the remarkable feat of achieving true 12:00 on a single fin.
Long time tour rivals Wilko and Josh Kerr matched up in the semis, and despite Kerrzy taking the win, it was Wilko who bagged the highlight of the heat. It's worth mentioning that, despite having one of the deadliest backhands in world surfing, having his back to the wall on a single fin was a bona fide disadvantage for Wilko, which is what made his vicious nooner on one keel all the more impressive.
“That’s the most dynamic turn that anyone has ever done on a single-fin!” Josh Kerr said of the mighty whack, echoed by Joel who was in the water prior to his victorious semi. “I could see half of his board out the back of the wave!"
The ever humble Wilko, when pushed, admitted that he thought it was "The best turn I’ve ever done on a right.” So much for single fins being good for nothing but soul arches and look backs.
The Joel Parkinson swoop: etched in surfing folklore.
And then there was the final. Supposedly Josh Kerr and Joel Parkinson are "retired" from competition, but once the hooter sounded the old friends were anything but cruisy. Joel lofted an air on his first wave to earn a 7.33, then surpassed it with a plethora of slices for a 8.43. Come the halfway mark it seemed that Joel would bag the first category of his first Champions Trophy, but one Josh Kerr had other ideas. The defending champion blasted a variety of manoeuvres on a nice looking wall for an 8.50, and then scored a 7.90 for a mega hit on the Sultans opening section, before linking a string of flowing turns down the line.
JK and the flowing commitment that earned him the win.
“To come to Four Seasons, score pumping waves on the first day and take the win, it doesn’t really get much better!” said an elated Kerr after the final. “The vibe is great but we’re all old competitive souls so once the contest jersey goes on we want to win. Joel and I grew up in the same boardriders club; he’s older than me, was always in the spotlight and has definitely got the better head-to-head record, which makes this win even sweeter.”
Despite getting pipped by his longtime sparring partner, Joel was all smiles and cocktails after the final. “I really enjoyed today,” he said. “The single fin is a challenge, it shows your flaws, but they are so fun to ride. I’ve told (two-time winner) Taj Burrow for years that I wanted to get in this event, and now I can see why he loves it here so much. This is my type of contest now that I’m retired, no pressure, good friends and a lot of fun with my family, living in luxury. I’m really excited for the twin-fin now, I feel like it should be my strongest division, so hopefully, I can snag a win there and get a little bit closer to being invited back here!”
Oh, and incase you were worried that the gang weren't having a good time in the lead up to the event here they are aboard the the Four Seasons Trigger Fish: a seaplane designed solely for the purpose of seeking out uncrowded perfection. The decadence!