The day after winning the 2009 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, contributor Sean Doherty had a chance to sit down with Parko and try to make sense of his victory. Excited about inching a few steps closer to his first ASP World Title, Parko was able to put things in perspective.
Are you a tired and emotional human being this morning?
Definitely tired. And hungry too. I didn’t really get a chance to eat amongst all the celebrations yesterday. I got a slice of pizza off Deano and that was about it.
He’s not renowned as someone who shares his food.
Well he had 14 pieces and I got one.
Getting a slice of pizza off Deano was harder than winning the contest.
Talk us through last night.
Good celebrations. It was pretty cruisey. We didn’t really go anywhere, just up to Cheron’s place with a whole heap of crew. A couple of beers and a couple of bottles of red and a wobbly walk home. I lost my bearing a little bit but I managed to navigate the path in the dark with my iPhone torch.
Were you aware that when you won yesterday, it was one day short of 10 years since you last won here at J-Bay?
I was aware, yeah. We’ve had the poster from 10 years ago stuck on the fridge inside since I got here as a bit of a motivational thing.
Does it seem like a long time ago?
It does. It makes me feel old. This time around I definitely have a better appreciation for winning here though. Back then I didn’t realise what a challenge it is to win here. It’s taken me 10 years to do it again, so this time it’s a little sweeter.
Did you channel anything from your first win into the campaign this year?
There was no real channelling. A few of the heat strategies maybe, but I didn’t dwell on the feeling of having won here before. But there were a couple of little weird omens that happened. My first wave I rode in the contest 10 years ago was a 9.4, and this year the first wave I rode was a 9.4, the identical score. Probably getting a little too deep on that one. But I woke up yesterday morning in the dark at six o’clock and the first thing I saw was a shooting star. Then when the sun came out there was a giant cloud there shaped exactly like a tuna. I don’t wanna get too weird but I believe in that stuff. They were good omens. I knew it was going to be a good day.
It seemed like you didn’t really break stride at all during the contest; your first wave every heat was a keeper and you didn’t look back from there. The whole thing looked, well, kinda easy.
It wasn’t easy, I can tell you that. But I went out with a game plan, my plan-A for J-Bay that works whenever there are good waves. Luckily for me there were good waves. They were easily the best waves I’ve ever had at J-Bay, just ridiculous how perfect it was on that second last day.
You seemed to be in really good rhythm with that wave.
For sure. If you’re in this contest and you’re not too sure about how to surf this wave you just have to watch Shaun Holmes. Watch him out there; he’s amazing. He knows when to turn and where to turn and he does these turns that just look effortless because he knows how to read the wave so well. I’ve studied his surfing out here a lot.
Your two 10s…
That first one was one of the best waves I’ve ever had. When I spoke to my Dad back at home afterwards I said, “Have you seen the 10?” He hadn’t, so he went and watched it on the heats on demand. He’s rung me up yesterday morning. I’m asleep and hungover like you wouldn’t believe, and he goes, “You’re kidding! That’s the best wave you’ve ever caught son!”
I spoke to Gally (Damo Hobgood’s coach) after the final and he goes, “the only thing I told Damo was that even if it meant he had to paddle Joel around to Boneyards, he couldn’t give him the inside on that first set.” You caught the first wave from under Damo’s nose and it won you the final.
Yeah, Damo was trying to push me deeper. At J-Bay you can get sucked into sitting out too far, and I just hugged the inside. Damo paddled out to that wave and I paddled across and inside. It was a late drop and as soon as I stood up I thought I might have been too deep and I wasn’t going to make the section. But the wind had swung southerly just before the final and that wind can help drive you down the line. I got around the section and it was just a perfect wave after that.
It was a good result not only with you winning, but all of the other guys behind you in the ratings tanked pretty early. Was it hard to shut that out as it was happening around you?
Yeah, I had to keep slapping myself whenever it started creeping into my mind, and I have to keep thinking like that for the rest of the year.
That board you won the final on is doing a bit of business for you this year.
Yeah, the Golden Child, it’s won me three contests, 120 grand, and I’ve had a few 10s on it, so it’s definitely got something going on.
It was sitting in the competitor’s area yesterday and some guy picked it up and you could hear Louie growling.
Yeah, he’s pretty protective of it. Louie won’t let me freesurf it or go anywhere near it. I’ve been surfing heats on it all year, but surfing it out here at J-Bay it seemed to developed some new spark again, some new characteristics.
The house you were staying in with Occ, Luke and Wes has had some fun moments this trip.
It’s a great household, and with Occ there you’ve always got something hilarious going on. But it was also a good place to base myself out of for the contest. We didn’t have the Internet here so we didn’t know what was going on with the contest. We don’t hear the PA from here. We’re close enough to see it but we couldn’t hear scores or anything, which was good. That kind of stuff can be draining. Here you don’t have the vibe of the contest and I could be relaxed and just in my own little world.
You’ve got six weeks off now, switching out of contest mode?
I started talking about Trestles late yesterday and we said that’s the only talk we’re going to have about it for the next month. I’m stoked on what’s happened, but in the bigger scheme of things there’s still a long way to go. Winning here, the ratings points are good, but it was also a real confidence boost for me to go forward and win the title. Am I stuttering? I’ve had two beers and I think I’m drunk.
Between wining the contest and the waves you guys got, it’s got to rate as one of your best wins?
It is definitely a special win. It’s one contest I’ve wanted to win again. It’s a special contest to win, and for me it’s a big step forward to achieving what I want. Thinking about it puts a smile on my face, for sure.
And your 1999 trophy made a mystery reappearance yesterday?
Yep, the trophy found its way home yesterday. It had been out the back at Billabong just dust collecting, and I wrote it off years ago and didn’t think much of it. It turned up at my Mum’s place yesterday courtesy of Bushy Mitchell. Thanks, Bush. It was 10 years ago today that I won it, and yesterday the trophy finally made its way back home.