“He most honours my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.”
It’s unsurprising that in those years Parko’s style icon was Tom Curren. No one then or since, and Parko might have the best claim, has surfed with the grace and timing of Curren. To that Parko tried, and succeeded, to add some classic Aussie grunt to his developing style.
“I really tried to emulate Curren, but I also loved the rail game of Hoyo,” Parko says. “Basically I was into anyone that held a line through their turns. Also when I was about 16 I started getting into airs and so watched anyone who was good. Guys like Archy for example.”
It’s not a bad mix of styles to throw into the blender. Add the points, the peers and the DNA and it was fairly clear by Parko’s mid-teens that the world had a special talent on its hands.
By 1996 the Cooly kids were dominating the Australian Junior Series and by the time Parkinson was 18 his sponsors knew he was ready for the world stage. In July 1998 he was given his first CT wildcard for the Billabong J-Bay Open.
“It was six foot and perfect from Boneyards to Impossibles, I paddled out through the keyhole, caught my first wave and that was it. I was gone. I lost my mind,” says Parkinson. “Next thing I was standing there on stage holding the trophy, not sure what had just happened.”
He also looks back then when he was right on the cusp of embarking on a senior professional career as a special time in the development of his surfing style. “My style has changed so much from today to what I was before I was tour bound,” he says. “I look back to that time when I was 17 or 18 and that was when I was surfing as naturally as I ever have. It was pure instinct. There was no surfing to a criteria or repetition through drills. You didn’t think about your surfing, you just did it.”
Main: Gold Coast tube run with an Egyptian twist. Photo: Swilly Inset: An early visit from the style police helped Parko iron out any bugs in his approach.