There are two men still standing in the race for the 2009 ASP World Championship. One of those men is 2009 O’Neill World Cup of Surfing Champion and current Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Ratings leader, Joel Parkinson. We caught up with Joel to see where he’s at heading into the biggest event of his career.
We heard your day didn’t start out so well before the finals of Sunset.
Yeah, I was down the beach where I do my little warm up out the front of Freddy Ps place, and I’ve felt all this mud sticking to my feet. I’ve reached down and wiped it off and just smelt it and gone, you are kidding me! It was dog shit. Then without thinking I’ve wiped my foot on my other leg to get it off and wiped my hands on my boardies. So I’ve paddled out for my first heat covered in dogshit. They say it’s good luck if a bird shits on you, and it must work with dogs as well cause I ended up winning.
That’s your third win at Sunset; you obviously have something going on with the place.
I really love surfing that wave. I remember when I first came here when I was 14 and 15, I surfed Sunset all the time. It was pretty well the only wave I surfed.
As focused as you probably are on Pipe and the world title, you’d imagine Mick’s going through the same thing. It didn’t surprise you he made the final today with you?
Not at all. It didn’t surprise me that Mick made the final. He was ripping in his quarter and semi, but Sunset has a habit of not letting you have three good heats in a row, and that caught up with him in the final.
The win places you pretty well for another shot at the Triple Crown. Are you even thinking about that with the world title on the line as well?
For sure. Coming here I was thinking… like, I love the Triple Crown, but I was using the first two events at Haleiwa and Sunset to get the wheels moving, to get into a good routine and a good rhythm with the place, all to get ready for Pipe. It’s a bonus, the win, and a bonus to lead the Triple Crown, but it’s still all about Pipe. It’s all part of something bigger.
You came over with the goal of surfing as much as you could in the lead-up to Pipe. How’s your program been going?
I’ve been surfing heaps; surfing heaps and training. I haven’t had the family here with me so I’ve been trying to keep myself occupied by staying in the water. As soon as I get bored I start missing the kids, so I don’t let myself get bored. I just go surfing. I’ve been paddling out at Pipe or Off The Wall and just hoping to get one or two good ones a session. To me, that’s a good session. If you go out for an hour and get one or two cherries, you’ve had a good time. You only need two waves in a heat, so I try and keep my surfs short and sweet and not too draining. Keep them intense and try and get the two best waves I can. Plus I just want to keep familiarizing myself with the place. You can never learn too much about Pipe.
There’s a lot on the line and it’s getting pretty close. You look remarkably calm.
I don’t know why. I really don’t. I feel like the closer it’s getting the more I suck it in and the more relaxed I’m getting. I’m sure the time will come when my blood will start to boil, but for now I’m in a good frame of mind, I’m really relaxed and I’m just concentrating on surfing and what’s happening in the ocean. I’m not going to win the title on land. Monica got here a few days ago and she looks at me and goes, “All you do is stare at the waves.” I’m like, “I just love seeing the different moods it gets in. I get hypnotized by it.”
How you sleeping at night?
I’m sleeping like a baby. I don’t know why. I figure there’s no point in stressing about what’s out of my control, and all I can do is make the best of what I’ve got.
How’s your neighbor (Mick Fanning) going?
We’ve had our moments, but it’s been pretty good. Mick and I run into each other and it’s funny. Me and Andy went for a nice romantic walk down the beach the other morning. We walk out the front door and down onto the sand and look across and Mick is doing exactly the same three doors away. We just look at each other, the Three Stooges on the beach. I was just laughing. There’s never going to be any bad blood between us. We’re always going to be mates.
What’s it going to take to win Pipe?
It’s not like I’m going to approach it any differently than any other event I’ve surfed this year. I’ve just got to stay calm and relaxed and quietly confident in my ability. It’s two waves a heat. For me I like to keep it real simple; I just worry about myself, the waves, and my surroundings. I’ve just got to be really aware of how the ocean moves over here, so that’s what I’m thinking of more than anything. In Hawaii if you can beat the ocean in your heat your chances of winning the heat are so much higher.
Has it been good having Andy in the house with you considering he’s been in your position before, having to basically win Pipe to win the title?
Yeah, we’ve been training and surfing a lot, but he’s letting me do my own thing. Plus I’ve been trying to give him some space the last few days. The Eddie’s likely to be on so I’ve been trying to pump him up for that. Haven’t I Andy? [Whose just walked out of the house] C’mon, pump it up, Eddie tomorrow!
AI: Don’t you worry about that! My boards got stickers on it, I’m ready.
JP: How good is it… Andy Irons in the Eddie Aikau tomorrow? Hey Andy, you need a caddy?
AI: Of course, you’re on!
JP: There’s no way in hell I’m getting out there! What, and have a 50 foot left come at me? I’m cheering from the beach. I’ve got to surf at Pipe, but at least I don’t have to surf 50-foot Waimea, going over the falls on a left.
Are you excited about the prospect of waking up tomorrow morning and seeing 30 foot waves out the front of your house?
I’m in the closest bedroom to the beach, so as long as waves don’t come washing through my bedroom I’ll be stoked. It looks like a few days of massive surf… that I don’t want to get involved with. If I didn’t have Pipe and a world title to worry about, I’d love to go and paddle somewhere or tow somewhere. Ride the biggest wave of my life somewhere. But there’s no way I can do it. That’s my excuse anyway. I’ll just sit back and relax and watch the place get washed away. They’re saying this swell will be as big as ’69. A few years ago when the Eddie was on, that morning I was in the house next door and a three-foot wave went through the backyard. This house is about two foot lower. The landlord told us to keep all the doors open so the wave goes in one door and out the other. And I think I’ll sleep with my leggie on.