Pecking Orders And Insomnia

Joel Parkinson on Snapper Rocks in an excerpt from the Big Issue

Joel Parkinson, behind the rock at Snapper. Photo: Maassen

It’s a scene out there at Snapper, sure. Always has been, always will be. At times it’s just like just being upstairs in the surf club when all the Snapper guys are sitting together behind the rock talking bullshit, laughing, then splitting a few waves when they come through. It can be a real social thing, but when the waves are good and the crowd’s off the charts, that’s when it can get a little hot. You’ll see chaos, but you’ll also see the subtleties in the pecking order.

When it’s just the younger crew out it’s great for me ’cause I’m one of the older young ones, so I can throw my weight around a little bit. But if someone like Wayne Deane or Uncle Daryl or Bruce Lee paddles out the vibe changes real quick cause we get shunted down the pecking order a few spots. You gotta show that respect to those older guys, and it changes what waves you’ll take. Even if you’re sitting deeper and a wave comes and I look down the line and see one of those older boys paddling wide I’ll always pull back. Well, most of the time, anyway. I’ve faded my Uncle out there before and I was gutted. It was my f–k up, and I couldn’t sleep for a week because my Uncle Daryl was my surfing hero growing up. He still is, I suppose.

I still reckon the best I’ve ever seen Snapper was the day my Uncle got married. This was long before The Superbank, I must have been 7 or 8, I guess, and my Uncle was getting married on the hill above Snapper on a perfect 6-foot day. It was perfect Snapper. I remember Daryl and all his mates standing there for his wedding in their suits, looking down at Snapper pumping, and it was killing them. I reckon it must have been the quickest wedding in history and I think Daryl moved the reception out behind the rock.

But ya know, it’s been pretty good lately. We just had the best run of swell, a whole fortnight of getting barreled out there. All day, every day. I’d get home just buckled, have dinner and a shower, say goodnight to the kids, then collapse. But you knew it would be on again tomorrow, so you can’t sleep. You’re lying in bed wide-awake with the bedroom wall throwing over you, reliving the day before. You’re awake again at 4 a.m.; you can’t sleep because you know you’re about to do it all over again. It’s that kind of a wave—the kind that will keep you awake at night, surfing it in your head.

—Joel Parkinson

Check out the rest of the 100 Best Waves in our annual Big Issue, on newsstands now.