Mitch Parkinson has beaten traveling mate and fellow Snapper Rocks local Sheldon Simkus in an epic final at the Taiwan Open of Surfing QS1,500. After three days of action, Jinzun Harbour saved the best conditions for last with competitors dining out in high-performance, 3-to-5 foot peaks.
Parkinson and Simkus were the two standouts on Friday throwing down some of the most impressive aerial surfing seen in a QS event this season. In the Final the two went wave-for-wave, but it was Parkinson who posted the winning total of 14.23 and ran away with his first-ever Qualifying Series event victory.
"I'm lost for words right now -- to come here with Sheldon and stay together then end up in the Final together is a bit of a fairy tale," Parkinson said. "I've had an amazing event here, the waves were pumping the whole time and to finish it off in the Final with a childhood mate is really special. It's my first-ever QS win so I'm over the moon."
After a solid run of results in the back half of the QS season, Mitch -- the younger cousin of 2012 World Champion Joel Parkinson -- moved into contention to win the 2017 WSL Australia/Oceania QS. After Ty Watson fell out in the Quarterfinals, Parkinson needed to win to consolidate first place on the rankings. After winning he was informed he'd earned a seed into the biggest QS events of 2018.
"I had no idea I was even in contention," Parkinson continued. "I hadn't thought about it to much but with this opportunity I'm going to have to have a good crack at the Qualifying Series next year, something that will be made easier with this paycheck. (Parkinson won $10,000 USD for his efforts) it's a real honor to win the regional QS so I'm really stoked."
Simkus was in incredible form on Friday and seemed to be building momentum towards the final. Once he ended up in competition with his hometown buddy he was unable to continue building, coming just short with a heat total of 12.30. Simkus walks away with his head held high, finishing the season with the best result of his career.
"I came to Taiwan to win the event so to come just short of that is still a great result for me," Simkus said. "It was really awesome to surf in the final with my good mate Mitch. This is my first time in Taiwan and I have been really impressed with the quality of waves, it's been pumping the whole time -- I'll definitely be coming back next year that's for sure."
Bowing out in equal 3rd position was Indonesian sensation Rio Waida. Waida posted some of the highest scores of the event consistently through each round, but failed to find a rhythm in his Semifinal. This result however has left Waida to take out the WSL Asia QS for 2017 and gives him a seed into the QS6,000 and 10,000 events for the first half of 2018. Waida will then begin his campaign to become the first Indonesian surfer to qualify for the elite WSL Championship Tour.
"I'm really happy to take out the Asia QS," Waida said. "Surfing in all of the big QS events next year will be amazing, I can't wait to compete with and against some of the biggest names in surfing. It has been a dream of mine for years. I had a great time at this event and am stoked with how I surfed. I will definitely be coming back to compete in Taiwan next year."