PARKO

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

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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?

No.

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.

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