Joel sits atop the world (more specifically Egan and Berg) for the first time aged 31, but why?
When Joel Parkinson won J-Bay as a baby-faced wildcard in 1999, it seemed the sport had a new hero, a new exponent of that oh so rare combination of a impossibly buttery style married with a hunger and nouse to win. As a youth he sparked a fierce bidding war between Quik and Bong when Slater advised Quik they ‘have to sign this kid’ (Bong won). And despite becoming one of the surf world’s major stars and staying one, that ASP World Title seemed all too elusive for too long. Yesterday, Joel bucked that trend winning Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of AI 2012, becoming the 2012 ASP World Champ. But why did we all wait so long?
One of the finest and most instinctive tuberiders the world has ever seen, Joel now has silverware proof of what his fans have long been heralding. Photo: Kirstin/ASP
Why Parko had to wait so long
1. Andy and Kelly. Those two had most of the naughties all sewn up, with very little look-in for anyone else (Ceej and Mick). That meant talents like Joel and Taj were consigned to perpetual bridesmaid status, when in any other era they would have been multiple title winners (Damien Hardman won two, for fuck’s sake).
2. His surfing was ‘too easy to judge’. The downside of a smooth, flowing style is that the impact isn’t always there, making it look easy makes it less impressive. Think the perfect opposite of de Souza (who makes it look hard). Even Slater has done a few of those ‘I-only-just-made-it’ arm flaps out of the barrel down the years to show the judges ‘just how brilliantly I dealt with that tricky piece of wave’.
3. Injury. The horrendous fin slashed heel in 2010 being the most gory, and at a time when his form was deadly. Slater went on to win that year in Puerto Rico, and event marred by the death of Joel long-time friend Andy Irons.
4. He hung out too much with Carwyn Williams in Europe when he was young. Good fun, but shit house for your world title prospects.
5. Porko. Was he ever fat? I’m not sure, probably not. But he certainly wasn’t ever as fit as he is now. Joel ‘did a Mick’ and got ridiculously fit lately, trained by Aussie Ironman Wes Berg, paddled the Molokai channel, and basically got as serious as he got fit. Seriously fit? Something like that. (Reports that Kelly is now going to hire the Brownlee Bros are 100% unconfirmed…)
6. Historically, he wasn’t amazing at turns on lefts. I’m not being weird, but like in head high mushy lefts, he wasn’t lighting it up compared to some of your more squatty, jerky surfers. As luck would have it, the only time this year he had to take off on a shitty left in a CT heat was in Brazil, where he made the final anyway.
7. It didn’t take that long. Well, it did, but he’s still only 31, which these days, in surfing anyway, is the new 24. He can go on for another 11 years like T Knox, win a title every season, and retire the 12-time ASP World Champ, the greatest of all time. Stay tuned.