“Behind the perfection of a man’s style, must lie the passion of a man’s soul.”
However to embark on a successful 20-year-career you have to start thinking about your surfing. For the very best surfers that’s pretty much all they ever think about. “You never switch off, 100 per cent, every heat, every training session,” he says. “You are connecting the dots every free surf. It’s such a good feeling knowing I won’t be doing that from now on. I’m pulling that out of my surfing. I’m not going to be worried about what’s in the first turn, what’s in the second turn and what’s in between. I can’t wait to miss some sections.”
Such is Parko’s casual approach, it’s easy to forget just how much work and sacrifice has gone into surfing and competing the way he does. For the majority of his career it was, mistakenly, taken almost as a lack of effort. His smooth style and ability to make difficult things looks easy, instead of garnering more points, actually cost him heats.
“I would be trying really hard and I thought the judges weren’t rewarding it because maybe it looked easy or was mistake free and so there was little drama in my waves,” he says. “Then I would put my arms out and add a big wing span on the same turn and people would say, ‘That’s sick.’ I’d be like it’s the same shit. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Sometimes you had to fake it to make it.”
“The king of that is Kelly,” he says, clearly getting on a roll. “He’s done so many amazing turns where I swear his board has done the same thing, but he’s put his body in different position and made it look amazing and different. He’s won heats and events doing that. He’s the master of disguise. Occ was pretty good at it, just a welltimed hair-flick was worth a point.”
A lot was made of the physical transformation made in the years before Joel won his world title. And indeed it was dramatic. With Wes Berg on board Parko undertook the first systematic training regime of his life. His diet too was unpacked. Beers, one his great passions, was replaced by tea. That World Title year of 2012 was built on herbal tea. His whole life became about discipline and planning, not traditionally Parko’s strong points.
Parko the tube master relishing the challenge posed by a green beast with a few kinks and bumps.