IN SEPTEMBER JOEL PARKINSON MADE A 28-HOUR JOURNEY AND ENDED UP AT DOWN THE LINE SURF SHOP, HAYLE, FOR THE AFTERNOON. HE WAS THE FIRST ELITE WSL TOUR SURFER TO VISIT THE UK FOR A VERY LONG TIME. A TOP EFFORT AND YOU KNOW WHAT, HE TURNS OUT TO BE A TOP BLO
The most stylish surfer of his generation was in Blighty so we had a chat.
So what are you going to do when you retire?
Honestly, I’m going to pretend to be busy, so I can surf as much as I can. (laughs) I've got a lot of things happening outside of the WSL. I'm still with Billabong so will continue the ambassador stuff. I do enjoy going out and meeting kids and people and putting smiles on people's faces. So that and a few surf days, that kind of stuff. I find all that rewarding and enjoyable, so I am going to do a fair bit of that. And I also have a few other little business ventures that I'm involved in. I also do Balter beer.
Is there a beer off with your and Taj at Honest?
No, not really. We all get on well, and we try to be supportive of each other, so it's pretty good. There is no bad blood in beer! (Laughs) And hopefully, I am invited to the Champions Trophy in the Maldives! That thing looks so good. I've asked Taj and Kerrzy to put a word in for me!
Do you think surfers ever really retire?
Not from surfing no. The way I put it is I'm not retiring from surfing I'm just taken the competition vest off. That's the only way I can put it. You won't see me in the WSL comps. And I am pleased about that because I've had enough of competition, but I nowhere near feel like I've had enough of surfing. I don't think you ever think you have had enough surfing. Even today I'd love to have a surf, I am stinging to get the water (after 26 hours solid travel - Ed) so while I have decided I don’t want to pull a jersey on I still have a desire to be in the ocean as much as possible.
It's one of those things that never goes away. No, I don't think it ever does go away. My uncle is 57. He still surfs before and after work, and he'll take a day off when the waves are pumping. He still rides my shortboards and even steals my quiver. He surfs more than anybody! Is it that you've lost the competitive drive or is it just the pressures of the tour that made you quit. Are you competitive in life in general?
Not really, no. It's funny I'm not the most competitive human out there, maybe in certain things. It might come back I guess - the drive for one or two events. I'm excited for the early Burleigh single fin event in January. I want to surf in different and fun events. But the WSL is the beast of competitions. And it takes so much out of you with the consequences of winning and losing being so great. So doing the other speciality events without those consequences will be fun. But that is it for the WSL; I'll never take a wild card or surf on tour again.
Did you not fancy hanging on until the Olympics?
What do you think of the Olympics?
So it's hard for me to say too much, but my opinion is that I worry. Maybe if it's done in the wave pool and that's just that, it will be ok. But I can see it being held in a one-foot beach break at Chiba and it will be a disaster, because the following week or month we'll be at 10-foot Chopes, and to be honest that is our Olympics.
That's what I think; if you want the Olympics, you take it to Tahiti. For me, everybody is hanging their hopes of mainstream glory on the Olympics, but I think what the general public like about surfing is everything else. They like going surfing, the lifestyle and watching big waves I don't think they will get small wave surfing as it stands.
I think one older Hawaiian guy said some brilliant things. It seems like every 20 years we have this vicious cycle and it's coming back. Possibly in the late '80s and early '90s, we (not me as I was too young!) made some mistakes, and it seems like we may be doing it again. I was lucky to be surfing in a phase where Rabbit started the dream tour with exotic locations and waiting periods and all the best surfers in the best waves, all that is what is great about competitive surfing. I think you learn a lot of lessons from mistakes and some lessons should have been learnt along the way.
Over your career has there been one moment that you feel everything came together and it was absolute gold?
I had a heat in Tahiti, like pumping Tahiti eight to 10-foot perfect Chopes. Nathan Hedge, Ace Buchan and I were out. It had been pumping all morning, and I think we were going in heat four. Hedgy went on the first wave and went deep, and he made with it with a seven score. And then it just went flat... After it been pumping all morning. We were all sat there like “What the hell's happening here? This is not right?" Anyway, it went on like that until we get down to the five-minute mark. I think Ace had had like a two and I had had like a 3.5, but after that, there had just been nothing.
Then all of a sudden with a minute to go in the heat, this three wave set comes through. Hedgey had priority, so he takes off on an absolute 10 foot perfect Chopes barrel, and stands in this thing. He doesn't get very deep, but he gets spat out into the channel. Ace is on the next wave. He got one of the best barrels of the event. It should've been a 10. He was riding on the foam ball at 10-foot Teahupo'o. The third wave was mine. I took off fell out of the lip, as stood in one of the biggest, most perfect, bluest barrels I can ever remember surfing. I got deep, touched the foam and got blasted out into the channel. So there we were, the three of us sat next to each other in the channel. And we were all so stoked I was like, “That was sick, how was yours?" And they were like “Mine was amazing! How was yours?" We all just shared an amazing moment, and it wasn't lost on us, we were thinking “How cool was that!" It was the worst heat of the morning, and it turned into a fantastic moment. Three guys getting §absolutely drained one after the other. I went and watched it back on the
I want to surf in different and fun events. But the WSL is the beast of competitions. And it takes so much out of you with the consequences of winning and losing being so great.