Joel Parkinson stops the clock on today’s breakthrough performer

Nobody’s got it tougher than Generation Now. Not just in a contest — where the Irons brothers, Hobgood twins, and Coolie kids make up what is surely the most intimidating band of surfers in history — but in an interview. After all, unlike the other generations, these kids are just getting started, how do they know who’s going to be the real ones to stand the test of time? They can, however, discuss who are the powerbrokers this minute. And as Joel Parkinson will tell you, in a group were performance standards change every second, just being in the mix is a winning move.

SURFING: Who would you say are the top surfers of your generation?

Joel Parkinson: At the moment, I’d say Andy. But I’d say Taj would be one of the most influential surfers, and Mick for sure, too. And I guess it’s going to be good to see in 10 years who was more influential; it’ll be a lot more black and white then. Right now it’s hard to say because you don’t know when someone might pull away or fall behind.

SURFING: Other generations have been defined by a certain film — Free Ride, Momentum –can you think of one that captures you guys best?

Joel: I don't know. I think back then, there wasn’t as many videos. These days, there’s two good ones each month, and then three or four that are shitty, I’d have to say it would be more of a... a contest type thing. At contests they’re lifting so much more, and videos everyone always has a sick section these days. To make an impression in a video these days is a lot harder than what it used to be. There’s a few that do stand out, though, like Bruce in Momentum UTI, that was just f–ked up. That pretty much blew my mind... And Taj’s videos, too. Montaj was out of control, I thought.

SURFING: Do you think there’s a type of surfing — or something you brought too surfing — to elevate it. Something that defines what’s going on right now?

Joel: Ask me that in 10 years time, you might know the answer. Right now, I’m kind of deep in it, so I’m still trying to improve.

SURFING: Where have things gone from the New School guys?

Joel: I think, um, I think those guys laid down kind of the start of it, it was sick when it first came out. They were doing punts and really getting loose out of the lip, it kind of just — I reckon — I just think that they started it. And not that we’re finishing it — I don’t know where it’s going to keep going. Kids in 20 years, I wonder if they’ll even be carving turns then? Surfing, it’s not like skating or snowboarding. It can’t progress on a day-to-day basis, it takes a lot more time. It takes generations before it can reveal itself. And one generation’s always better than the next. I remember Kelly Slater in Black and White, just that little reverse at Huntington. I remember when I was a kid being, like, ‘How did you do that?’ And now, them two little turns wouldn’t even make a movie today.

SURFING: What are the greatest moments of your generation?

Joel: Andy beating Kelly, definitely. I think another good one was the Taj and Mick heat at Snapper the year before last. Mick had a 10 and 9.8 and Taj had 9.5 and 9.9 or something like that. 9.1s and 9.2s were going out the window and the surfing was through the roof. And there wouldn't have been anyone else that would’ve won that heat. And maybe it’s because it’s the most high-performance wave around, but I think that one really showed there was a new generation coming on.