Coolangatta, Gold Coast
You get the feeling that every day is the best day of Joel Parkinson's life. The guy's got it all; the loving family, enough mates to populate a small sovereign nation, a top turn that melts butter. It's easy to understand why the split-watermelon smile has become the Joel Parkinson trademark. It's July 1999, and an 18-year-old whippet from the Gold Coast is about to re-write surfing history on the hallowed walls of Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa. After scoring a wildcard start in the contest, the kid from Coolangatta paddles out against the world's best surfers... Read More
You get the feeling that every day is the best day of Joel Parkinson's life. The guy's got it all; the loving family, enough mates to populate a small sovereign nation, a top turn that melts butter. It's easy to understand why the split-watermelon smile has become the Joel Parkinson trademark. It's July 1999, and an 18-year-old whippet from the Gold Coast is about to re-write surfing history on the hallowed walls of Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa. After scoring a wildcard start in the contest, the kid from Coolangatta paddles out against the world's best surfers and proceeds to systematically dismantle them. He doesn't even really seem to be trying that hard, he's just doing what he does. The accidental prodigy wins the contest in a canter. A disbelieving surfing world has just been introduced to Joel Parkinson.
Over a decade later and Parko remains one of the most naturally gifted surfers on the planet. The Gold Coaster possesses a pure, hypnotic style that almost disguises just how critical his surfing really is. Seamless and syrupy, his act is the product of some good surfing DNA, and a childhood spent surfing some of the finest sandbottom pointbreaks on the planet.
Ask any grommet, in any surfing backwater, anywhere in the world today who they want to surf like, and they'll tell you it's Joel. Ask the world's best surfers whose surfing they have a secret fetish for, and again you'll get a universal answer. "I could sit there and watch Joel surf all day," says Joel's best mate, Mick Fanning. "It never gets boring to watch. Just don't tell him I told ya."
While its Joel's sublime surfing talent that has taken him around the globe a hundred times chasing perfect waves, it's his laidback groove that has seen him build an army of good friends along the way. Always the lovable smartarse, Joel is simply a fun guy to hang around.
For a bloke possessing such a supernatural ability in the ocean, on terra firma Parko is frighteningly down to earth. He loves his football, fishes away the days when there are no waves, and needs little arm-twisting for a beer with his mates at the Rainbow Bay Surf Club. He's even got the obligatory bad tattoo on his ankle.
Joel married his high school sweetheart, Monica, and they spawned two daughters, Evie and Macy, and a son Mahli. The Parkinson kids now form Joel's pro tour entourage, travelling with him for much of the year. He's a guy who's true to his family, true to his friends, and true to his roots.
Only interrupted by family, fishing or football, Joel's surfing devours the rest of his waking hours. No one loves the simple act of riding a wave more than he does. In surfing he's done pretty much the lot. He's won events at iconic waves like Sunset Beach, Jeffreys Bay, Bells Beach and his home break of Snapper Rocks. He's had two perfect 10s in a heat at Pipeline. He's made the ASP Top 5 on eight occasions. He's won the Hawaiian Triple Crown three times. He's featured in dozens of surf movies, had surf magazine covers coming out the wazoo, and had a million words written about him.
And now, after one of the most climactic days in pro surfing, Joel has finally nailed the one accolade that eluded him - the ASP Men's World Title. To do it, he had to overcome title challenges from good mate Mick Fanning and the one and only, Kelly Slater in the final event of the year at Pipeline in Dec 2012.
With thousands of fans cheering his every wave from the beach, and millions more watching worldwide, Joel scrapped and fought his way to the final in shifty and challenging Pipe conditions. He went on to win the event, relegate Slater to number two and permanently etch his own name as one of the true greats of the sport.
This video was made as part of a digital magazine to celebrate Joel Parkinson's maiden ASP World Title. A collection of clips that featuring online, including interviews from Billabong founder Gordon Merchant, and close friends and family, have been strung together for your viewing pleasure.
This is why Parko surfs, why do you?