Parko's last year on tour?
SURF SCENE with Andrew McKinnon
2012 WORLD champion Joel Parkinson has mentioned a couple of times that he has considered leaving the tour and joining his fellow competitor Mick Fanning on the sidelines.
At the recent Billabong Parko Grom Stomp on the Sunshine Coast, where Joel learnt how to surf, when asked how he felt about surfing against Fanning in round one of the Hurley Pro at Trestles, California Joel said: "This could be the last time we compete against each other”.
It's no secret Joel had considered retirement after last year's results finishing twelfth on the rankings and so far in 2016 he hasn't been any better where he is currently rated fourteenth.
His first win was as a wildcard junior in 1999 at Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa - a wave so suited to his silky, smooth-carving style - and he was able to go on and win 11 World Championship Tour wins. In the early days Joel battled against the intense rivalry between Andy Irons and Kelly Slater and then his friendly rivalry with close mate Mick Fanning. He came so close in those years to winning a world title with a number of runner-up finishes. As a competitor you need those wins to fire you up, otherwise the tour can turn into a slog and while it has all the glamour and exotic destinations, not winning can take its toll.
It's been a long time between drinks for a much deserved win. Joel's last podium finish was at Keramas, Bali for the Oakley Pro back in July 2013, the year following his emphatic world title victory with a Pipe Master win.
Like his close mate Mick Fanning, Joel's been on tour for 17 years. It was understandable when Mick called time-out to selectively compete in 2016. Parko admitted harbouring similar thoughts and watching good friend Taj Burrow hang up the jersey permanently in June at Fiji.
Born in Nambour in 1981 (hence his WSL number of 81), at 35 years of age and a father of three, Joel has at least 10 more good years of surfing at the elite level. Take a look at Kelly Slater at 45, he keeps rewriting the history books but then there really is only one Slater.
Mick Fanning will go back into semi-retirement after competing at Trestles. His amazing win at J'Bay means he will successfully qualify for next year's WSL 2017 Tour. This means no European leg or a Pipeline finish which has seen Fanning endure the pressure cooker of competition. I'm sure he would be looking forward to spending a Christmas at home with family and friends for a change.
For Joel, hopefully the weekend event at the Sunny Coast with the grommets will rekindle the fire in the belly and see Parko find the much-needed spark to ignite him at Trestles and the rest of the tour, especially Pipeline at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, following hot on the heels of her brother Tai's Queensland Junior State Title win, Lucy Tandler has won her first big final at the Billabong Parko Grom Stomp taking out the u/12 girls. It followed her first Snapper Rocks Surfriders club win a week earlier. Perhaps the biggest inspiration from Lucy's camp was of course from her Dad Oli who was enjoying the maiden win especially on Father's Day.