Surf journalist Sean Doherty asks the defending Vans Triple Crown champion what his plans for this year’s Triple Crown are and what happens when he runs into current ASP World Tour points leader Mick Fanning in their small hometown of Coolangatta. Do you think Parko can pull off the ASP World Title and the Vans Triple Crown?
Sean Doherty: This is going to be a huge Hawaiian season. There's a lot on the line for you.
Joel Parkinson: There is for sure. I guess… I dunno, I've been thinking about it and I'm just so excited to go surfing again more than anything. That's all I've been thinking about, I just want to get there and surf some good waves because we haven't had many lately. Haleiwa and Sunset are such good warm-ups to get you in a rhythm over there. I'm obviously focused pretty squarely on Pipe, but I'd love to win the Triple Crown again, especially with the extra prizemoney. It's typical, the year I win it I get a watch, and then it goes up to 50 grand the next year!
How's your ankle?
The last few weeks it's felt really good. Really good. I kind of got over that stiff injury phase, now I'm getting flexibility back in it, so it allows me to do a lot more on it. When I get home from Hawaii I'm going to have another round of MRIs to find out if it's 100 percent. I've got one little test to do to find out how much movement I have between my tib and my fib, and if it has a lot of movement I'll probably have to get a screw in it, but if it doesn't then I should be right.
Did you consider not doing Haleiwa and Sunset and just going over for Pipe?
Only if my ankle wasn't good. I mean, it was still a little questionable. The doctor the other day recommended I should probably pull out of Haleiwa, but I'm still surfing fine and surfing without pain. I'm fit and healthy so I said to him, "I'm doing it, mate." I love the Triple Crown, I love Hawaii. It's surfing. Your surfing goes up so many levels over there, and I'm going to need to be in a good rhythm if I'm going to challenge at Pipe so I need time in the water over there. You could say it's a chance of re-injuring it, but you need to get rhythm in Hawaiian waves. There's a risk doing the full season, but it's far riskier not doing it. I could stay at home and train and get fitter, but I'm at the stage now where I'm fit enough already, now I need to be surf fit. And there's no way I could sit here at home while Hawaii was on. I love the place too much. The last few years I come home at Christmas and for the first few days I'm still ringing the buoy line In Hawaii to see what the surf's doing over there. It'd kill me to stay at home and train then see that first big swell hit. I'd be going, far out, what am I doing here? Training at home would be beneficial, but nowhere near as beneficial as standing in barrels at Pipe. You've got to remember that you need to feel the power over there. My first wave at Sunset every year I always feel like I'm winding up the windows and hanging on for grim death. It takes a good surf or two to remember where you ride your board from and where you turn from.
Above: Joel Parkinson surfing in Bali rip clip.
You told me the other day you're relishing the fact you're looking ahead, and not over your shoulder.
For sure. It means I've got a bit more work to do, but it means I can concentrate more on me and what's in front of me. I'm excited about the challenge, really excited. To me there's so much hype about the world title, but to me it actually doesn't seem like that big a deal. I was thinking about it the other day. I was thinking I'm only 28, and I feel I've matured so much in my surfing and in myself. I know what I want and I know how to get it a little easier these days. It's not the be all and end all winning the world title this year. I blew it, I had an ankle injury, there's not much I could do about it. Next year I'll be fit and healthy and whatever happens this year – win, lose, or draw – I'm just going to want it as bad next year. It's not the last world title I'll challenge for.
You've learned a lot of lessons this year?
I've learned more about myself this year than any other year, for sure. If my ankle didn't blow out I'd be in a better position than I am now, but if you had of told me in January that going into Pipe all I needed to do was finish two or three spots in front of Mick and I'd win the world title, I would have asked, "Where do I sign?" I would've taken it straight away, no worries. For me, going into Pipe it's a huge opportunity, and I'm not thinking about what's behind me, I'm thinking about the opportunity in front of me.
How's it going between you and Mick?
It's fine [cracking up]. It's funny, sometimes we can be at home and not see each other for weeks, but it seems every time I drive down the street in Cooly at the moment we keep running into each other. We both know its healthy competition, and at the end of the day I'll be the first to congratulate him or he'll be the first to congratulate me, whatever way it goes. There'll be plenty of beers in it afterward.
To read the entire interview go to joelparko.com