Daniel Caban

17, Newcastle, aspiring surf journalist
All work and interviews self-completed
Work published in publications such as Coastalwatch and Surfing World Magazine

Barton Lynch Interview

Barton Lynch Talks World Champs At The Pipe Masters

This is an interview I wrote for Coastalwatch on one of Australia’s surfing legends, and ‘88 World Champ - Barton Lynch. As the Billabong Pipe Masters was nearing, and a 3-man World Title race was looming coming into the final event of the year, we managed to get Barton’s thoughts on Parko possibly finishing runner up for the 5th time, whether or not another title really means that much to the 11-time World Champ Kelly Slater and his pick for the inevitable 2012 World Title.

Parko, Kelly or Mick: Who Will Be 2012’s World Champion

As the waiting period for Billabong Pipeline Masters gets closer, the suspense is building for the first World Title showdown at Pipe since ’09, and with three surfing legends in their own regard in contention, its going to be one hell of a contest. Someone who has been in a closely contested title race before, 88 World Champion, Barton Lynch gives us his perspective on whether King Kelly will claim 12, Mick will bag his third or the best surfer never to win a World Title, Joel Parkinson, will be able to shake the tag and become a well deserved World Champ.

: Coming into Pipe, how do you think each surfer is feeling?

BL: I think that Mick would be holding onto hope more than any of us, because we’re all deeming it a two horse race, but Mick would be feeling that it is a pretty good position to be, keep all the pressure on them, and have everyone looking at them and hope they melt under the pressure. But it’s hard to imagine if Kelly is even acknowledging it, or just doing what he does and just going through his routine as he normally does, because 11 or 12… does it matter that much? So I think that he is most probably relaxed about things.

For Joel, I think that he would be looking down the barrel and thinking that this is my chance, this is the moment, and if I don’t succeed in this moment, I may never get another. So I think Joel would be the one who would be the most under pressure and then Kelly and Mick haven’t really got much to lose or to gain. He can gain a World Title, but as I said, does 12 really matter?

As you said, this may be Joel’s final chance to win a Title, do you think finishing runner up 5 times (the most of anyone) would be accomplishing what he wants?

No. I mean he came out wanting to win a World Title, and there is a big difference as history has shown between second and first, and I was surprised when I found he actually had four seconds. I didn’t know he had four. Cheyne Horan had four, Kong (Gary Elkerton) had three, and I’ve seen the impact of second places on those two guys and in hindsight you look back and you’re proud of your achievements but it is quite an emotional thing and I think that Joel would be quite heartbroken really.

Kelly Slater kinda sorta knows how to handle Pipeline.Photo: ASP/Cestari

Do you think Joel’s decision not to surf in the Triple Crown is a good decision?

It’s interesting, Sunset, as the event before Pipe, is just a completely different type of wave, that it almost doesn’t really give you much of a warm up, except for your fitness and your strength and your power. The thing that you notice going over there fresh is how fast the waves move and how much power you need in your paddling. But those guys are supreme athletes, so I personally think it’s most probably a good thing. I’d just wait and go there for one job and one job only. Joel has won Triple Crowns and done really well at Sunset and Haleiwa. So there is not much to gain for him by doing well there again, and in a way, as a competitor you don’t want to use your luck up. You do feel like you only get so many shots, you only get so many good heats, and you only get so many good waves sent to you and although you are in control, there is always an element of you not being in control and mother nature being in control. You do want to save the good stuff for the right moment and so I think that not doing those events is a good thing. It enables you to go there with a single focus, and all Joel has got to be able to do is to handle the impact of such an important moment with his own mind. That’s the challenge for him. Kelly doesn’t really have that, Mick doesn’t really have that, its only Joel that is in the situation that he has a lot to lose.

I’ve always figured that once you get to Hawaii, and once that waiting period starts, it’s almost too late. You have to have done everything you need to do before that moment and let auto pilot switch on and Joel is so experienced and talented and smooth on a board and off it and if anyone can handle it, he can handle it.

As a Three time Triple Crown WInner, Parko can find a home at Pipe in any conditions.Photo: ASP/Kirstin

Any of the local wildcards in particular that could shake up the race?

Yeah, more than any other break in the world, the local wildcards at Teahupoo and Pipeline are the toughest heats. There are guys in the top 32 that you would rather have than a wildcard. Those local wildcards, they are the “wild”-cards. It’s going to be interesting to see who gets ranked one, two and three because maybe every one of them is going to have one of those guys. Jamie O’Brien, guys like that at Pipe, they can surf it with their eyes closed.

Back when you won your World Title, you were in a relatively similar position to what Mick is, can you take us back to how you went about going to Pipe and being the underdog.

That season was real small and the last event at Pipe was the first real Hawaiian surf that we had. So it’s very similar to what Mick and Joel are going to go into, since they haven’t been doing the Triple Crown and they wont have surfed very big swells. So in a sense visualization becomes a good tool, if I was at home in Australia preparing for Pipe I’d be mind-surfing it every day. By doing that preparation before the event you have the confidence to go on autopilot.

After paddling out on the big day at Fiji (above), and winning at Chopes, Fanning has been no stranger to big barrelling lefts in 2012.Photo: ASP/Robertson

With all that in mind, who is going to win the 2012 World Title?

I’d like to see Joel win one, it would be great to see that, but I’m smart enough to know that it doesn’t matter what I think and that every heat you go into is a 50/50. It doesn’t matter who you got, doesn’t matter what their name is, doesn’t mater what their history is, and when that siren starts every heat is a 50/50. All it comes down to is who manages their 30 minutes the best. It’s just too close, I can’t pick one. But Kelly has had plenty, Mick has had a few and Parko deserves one. It would be great for Australia, and it would be great for him.

The 2012 World Title story this year will undoubtedly be centred around how Parko did or didn’t win. Particularly with the hype made by campaigns like #GoParko above.

The Billabong Pipeline Masters in Memory of Andy Irons begins on Saturday the 8th of December (Hawaii time – 3 hours ahead & a day behind AEDST). You can watch it here.

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