THIS year's ASP World Men's World title race has turned into the closest challenge in the history of professional surfing.
All will be revealed in the final event on the North Shore of Oahu at the Hawaiian Banzai Pipeline for the Billabong Pipe Masters on December 8-20.
After nine world championship tour events it all comes down to the final event at Pipe between Joel Parkinson in the lead and Kelly Slater in second.
Mick Fanning rated third is an outside chance and would need to win Pipe with Parko and Kelly going out in the earlier rounds, an unlikely prospect.
This race is on between Joel Parkinson, 31, and Kelly Slater, 40, and whoever takes out the Billabong Pipeline Masters between those two will claim the 2012 ASP World title.
If they both feature in the man on man final whoever wins will claim the world title.
There's 10,000 points for a win and 8000 points for second and right now Joel leads Kelly by only 1770 points.
Due to the altered format for the Billabong Pipe Masters, all three surfers will automatically be seeded into round three of competition and finish no worse than equal 13th (1750 points).
ASP WCT surfers' year-end rankings are based off their top eight finishes from the 10 ASP WCT events in 2012.
As Parkinson is the current rankings leader on the ASP WCT, the following ASP World Title scenarios will be based on his potential finishes at Pipeline.
If Parkinson finishes 13th, 9th or 5th at the Billabong Pipe Masters, Slater needs a 5th or higher to take the 2012 ASP World Title.
If Parkinson finishes equal 3rd at the Billabong Pipe Masters, Slater needs a 3rd or higher to take the 2012 ASP World Title.
Basically Joel needs to finish higher than Kelly at Pipe to win the World title that has previously eluded him.
He has come so close three times before yet this time around it's totally down to the wire and the pressure is on.
Kelly thrives on the competitive pressure bringing out the best when it counts but there are many variables such as the Hawaiian wildcards.
And there's North Shore local who learnt to surf at Pipe, John John Florence who took Kelly out of the event last year.
It's been a long time since the final event decided the World Champ.
Back in 2004 Kelly Slater was chasing a rampaging Andy Irons who won the world title in 2002 and 2003 kicking Kelly's butt and AI was at the top of his game.
The brinkmanship between these adversaries was at fever pitch.
Kelly shook Andy's hand to wish him good luck but he was having none of that, treating Kelly's good luck gesture as a mind game.
This was back in the four-man final days and a young Joel Parkinson was in that 2004 final.
Parko and AI were on the same Billabong team which didn't auger well for Slater.
At a critical point in the final, Joel was deep on the inside at Backdoor and Kelly wanted the wave but at the last second Joel pulled back denying Slater an opportunity.
Slater was irritated and moved down the beach to try and find a wave to himself.
It didn't work and Irons reigned supreme taking his third and last world title.
Joel has learnt alot since those days and knows what it takes to beat Kelly who ironically leads the winning ration 5 to 4.
"It's good that the world title has come down to Pipe," Parkinson said.
"And it's good for surfing."
He has had a fabulous year, his surfing is as stylish as ever but now he needs to put it to bed.
Parko needs to level up that score between himself and Kelly and if he can, he will win his first world title and take the crown for 2012.
Come on Parko, you can do it!
While Joel won't be chasing the Hawaiian triple crown which he has won twice previously, Slater will be.
Hawaiian triple crown legend Sunny Garcia is back with a win at the HIC Sunset Beach four-star, the 41-year-old won this event 20 years ago.
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