GALLERY: Parko eager to defend Surfest title

JOEL Parkinson says he will be back to defend his Surfest crown and hopes to bring his ‘‘lucky charm’’ again after winning his first full contest as a world champion on Sunday.

Parkinson overwhelmed Brazilian Alejo Muniz 15.43 to 12.13 in the final at Merewether beach after producing his best two waves – an 8.93 and 6.5 – with his first two attempts.

It helped give the 31-year-old his first Surfest crown and put him alongside Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater, Mark Occhilupo, Barton Lynch, Damien Hardman, Tom Curren and Tom Carroll as world champions to win Newcastle’s premier contest.

Parkinson was bundled out of the six-star World Qualifying Series event in 2012 after finishing last in his first heat and said the confidence gained from winning the world title helped him turn it around full circle this year.

The other change for him this year at Surfest was that his family – wife Monica and children Evie, Macy and Mahlia – came with him to Newcastle.

‘‘They must be my lucky charm I think,’’ Parkinson said.  ‘‘I’ll have to bring them with me every year.’’

And he was certain he would be back for the contest that served as key training for the opening World Championship Tour event of the year at Snapper Rocks.

‘‘This a perfect warm-up and a great place to come and I’ll be here again next year for sure,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve got in some great training, there’s been a lot of hard paddling, and even yesterday in the harbour it was a great wave but hard to ride.’’

After easily defeating American Damien Hobgood in the quarter-finals, Parkinson edged past Hawaiian Keanu Asing by .87 into the decider. He set up victory  with a cracking opening ride  in which he miraculously stayed upright in a mass of white water after a fierce turn.

‘‘I was just looking for something where you could get in a couple of good moves, because the conditions were getting worse,’’ he said.

‘‘I thought I was gone on that first one, I don’t know what happened there.’’

Muniz dominated Australian Nicholas Squires in the quarters but scraped into the final in a thrilling semi against No.3 seed Julian Wilson.

The Brazilian  scored a seven-point ride  and an 8.67 in the final five minutes to overtake Wilson, who then hit back on the siren with an eight to leave them equal on 15.67 totals. Muniz went through with the highest individual wave.

‘‘It’s amazing to surf against one of your idols,’’ Muniz said. ‘‘I knew it was going to be really hard to beat him but I had a really good week and I was believing in myself.  I got third at Burleigh and second here, so it’s all growing for me.’’ 

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