Interview, video, and photo courtesy joelparko.com.
How many times had you ridden that first wave in your mind before you actually surfed it?
Joel: I haven’t been sleeping at all. The thought of that first surf back is what’s been keeping me going for months, so it was awesome for it to finally happen.
Tell us about the surf.
I surfed for about 40 minutes and caught about 10 waves. Then I went back in the arvo and surfed for about two hours. I was riding a big old 6’6”, and I got a few Rainbow-through-Greenmount-then-Kirra waves, and was kinda just cruising. It was pretty awesome. I was amazed; it was like I was just flying. It felt like I was going so fast, even though I was probably going so slow. But it felt awesome.
How was your form?
I was pretty rusty. I’d be waiting for a section to come—I’d be wait, cutback, cutback, cutback—then finally a section would come and I’d bog a rail and fall off in the good bit. I was like, oh my god, what am I doing? Then I started completely going straight, so when I got to the good bit of the wave I could pocket ride or do a little turn. It was good because I could go fast, I just can’t do anything with my speed. You never lose the part of your surfing that enables you to find the part of the wave that generates speed. I got a little frustrated though as the day went on. I would be on a wave and I could feel and see where I’d like to be on the wave, but I just couldn’t get there. Not yet, anyway. You’d think it’s like riding a bike, jumping back on and riding like you always have, but it’s going to be a bit tougher with my surfing.
And how does the foot feel after a couple of surfs?
The foot feels all right, but it’s pretty sore and stiff. You think it’s feeling so good, but until you stand on a board and push it you don’t know for sure. I’m at home now and my ankle feels a bit stiff and sore. It will take a while to get it right, but the week after I cut my foot the specialist told me this would be the week I’d be back in the surf, and he was right so everything is on track.
It can’t be too bad. You surfed eight-foot Kirra the next day.
It was kind of like the year me and Mick surfed it in the contest. It was as big, but wasn’t hitting the bank as well. There were still some really good ones though. Brooko was out there on his ski, so I got a few lifts back out with him but I couldn’t do any step-offs because of my foot. And there were some waves out there I didn’t want to know about. It was pretty heavy.
So you still on course to surf the Triple Crown?
Yep, for sure. I wanna surf the Triple Crown. I’ve just got to get as fit and healthy as I can before I get there. I’ve still got a fair way to go. I was thinking, you know, Puerto Rico is 10 days away, and I realize I’m so far away from matching it with the boys on tour. It’s going to take me a few weeks to get back to a point where I can push it. I feel pretty fit, but I don’t feel really surf fit and in Hawaii you need to be surf fit. But on the upside your surf fitness returns really quickly once you start putting hours in the water. I surfed for an hour and last night I was knackered I felt like I’d surfed for 10. It’s just a matter of doing the hours now, and I’m so ready to do that you wouldn’t believe.