Professional Surfer

Editor’s Note: We asked Rob Machado who he’s picking to win the 2013 Billabong Pipe Masters. While a two-word answer would have been interesting, his response was way better. Instead, Rob offered an alternative means to decide to the ASP World Champion – ensuring that the top two competitors will always compete for the crown.

Kelly Slater could square off against Mick Fanning to decide the 2013 ASP World Champion at Pipeline.

Who wouldn’t want to see Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning go head to head for the crown? How about three times? Photos: ASP

When Parko won it last year, it was almost like a letdown. Because when you get that far through a contest and Parko had made it to the final and Kelly was in a semi against Josh Kerr and he lost – and that decided the World Title, it’s like, “No! That’s not right. They’re supposed to surf against each other for the World Title.” I felt like I got ripped off. It didn’t end right. Not that it was a bad thing. Nothing against Parko or anything. Sometimes I just wonder about professional surfing.

So I came up with an idea.

It’s safe to say that it’s between Kelly and Mick this year, right? Nobody else is even in the hunt, so I would approach it like REEF does the Clash of the Legends.


I would go to Kelly and Mick and I’d say, “OK, you guys are going to surf off. You’re going to have three heats throughout the course of the event, and they’re just going to be World Title heats; it’s just going to be the best of three. We don’t know exactly when. We’ll wait for optimum conditions. And we’re going to have you surf three times.” When the conditions are good, the trades are good, they go.

How cool would that be to know you’re going to get a best of three throughout the course of the event to decide the World Title? They would surf in the event also.

You would see three man-on-man heats for the World Title. This is it. This is the showdown. Nobody else is in the hunt. This doesn’t determine points. Winner take all. Best of three. I think that would be pretty cool.

I understand that it’s kind of unfair when Mick’s got a big lead; that’s where this idea has challenges, but that’s a dream scenario for me.

Last year I wanted to see Kelly and Parko surf against each other for the World Title. How often have you seen that happen in the last 15 years? Kelly and I surfed in ’95. That was a World Title heat. There was maybe one other time. Andy and Kelly had one, but a four-man heat doesn’t count.

If I was the other guy in that heat I would have just sat on the beach and said, “You guys just go out and have a man-on-man heat. We’re going to sit over here.” It would have been historic.

I wish there was something like that.

It’s just hard if you’re in Mick’s shoes. Mick has to make it past the quarters. If he makes it past the quarters, he wins. Based on Mick’s past, he’s made it past the quarters once or twice. I don’t know the stats. He’s made the final once in 2005. I know that. And then after that, I think he’s made the quarters once, and he’s probably surfed in it at least ten times. Maybe more. So you look at his odds. You think maybe he’d take that, right?

You look at Kelly’s odds, where he’s won it six times. He’s made the final probably ten times – I don’t know. You’re like, “Hmmm.” Maybe Mick would take that.

Two guys. Face off. Go for it. Best of three.

It would be the best thing ever for surfing. For fans, everybody would want to tune it. It was like when we had Curren vs. Occy at J-Bay. The Clash of the Legends. Everyone gets psyched to watch that.

Can you imagine if they split heats, and it came down to the third heat in eight- to ten- foot Pipe and Backdoor?

I’ve seen it happen so many times. When Parko lost the World Title a few years ago, because he lost to Dean Morrison before the final. It was so uneventful. Why can’t they just surf against each other?

Maybe they’ll change it this event. Gotta hurry. Contest starts in like two days.

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