The first word that many surf fans associate with Joel Parkinson is style. Apart from his World Title and 20-year career dominating the sport, it is the way Parko approaches a wave that might be his longest lasting legacy. So who better to talk through that approach than the man himself.
"Genetics is important and probably the biggest influence on your style. My uncle Daryl had a smooth down-the-line style of surfing. My dad was a great surfer but he surfed a bit more square on the wave. I am a mix of those two I think. You are born with a certain way of surfing. I remember the first time I saw myself on video I was probably 10 or 11 and I thought I had the worst style ever. I was so crouched and looked different then my mates. It took a while to become comfortable with my surfing."
"Growing up at Coolangatta the good point swells would often last four or five days. It was on those swells that you would notice real improvements in your surfing. You would get so in tune with your surfing because the points are so forgiving. You can make an error, say catch a rail and get caught behind, but still make it around and get back into the rhythm you had before you made your error. That means you learn quickly and because you catch a lot of waves that run for so long, you can really work on your tube riding, your technique and your style."
"Probably my biggest influence at a young age was Tom Curren. I really tried to emulate him when I surfed. I also loved the rail game of Matt Hoy and anyone that held a line through their turns. When I was about 16 I started getting into airs and watched anyone who was good, guys like Archie for example."
The Role Of The Tour
"My style has changed so much from before I was tour bound. I think when I was 17 or 18 my style might have been as natural as it has ever been. I was surfing on pure instinct with little thought. However, when you compete at a high level you start to connect the dots a bit better. That is a positive because your surfing becomes a real solid package. But there is a negative as well. As you need to emphasize every turn to hit the judging criteria there is an element of losing some flow. I cannot wait to surf next year and miss a few sections."
You Have To Work On It
"Luke Egan worked hard on my style. We always wanted to go above and beyond and emphasize every move. You could change a mediocre turn into a scoring one with different arm positions for example. We did all sorts of analysis on what worked and what looked good and it was about making something dramatic. The king of that is Kelly Slater. He has done so many amazing turns where I swear his board has done the same thing before but he puts his body in a different position and makes it look amazing and different. He has won heats and events doing that."
Land And Water
"I think there is a link between the way you surf and the way you act on land. I mean look at Mick Fanning. He is a guy who is a deep thinker who will make the right decisions. I think he does the same with his surfing. With me I think the emphasis has always been on enjoyment. I enjoy life, I like having fun and I hope that shows in my surfing. After all, that's the reason we all do it, isn't it?"