Joel Parkinson is a two time winner of the Billabong Pro. Catch up with Joel as he talks about his first win back in 1999.
“The first time I’d won J’Bay I’d come straight from Reunion Island where I’d got last in my first heat, rock bottom. I got fourth in my first heat. I was killing the juniors and Reunion was my first crack at the World Qualifying Series. I got 346th I think. So going into J’Bay my confidence was rock bottom.
I’d got here early and there was swell straight away, but by the time the guys on the Championship Tour had arrived it had died off so I hadn’t actually seen any of them surf the place.
My impression of those guys after watching them on video for so many years was that they were all gods, and I was just some punk kid. I thought I was going to be murdered as soon as I surfed against them.
But I remember watching that first day going, oh, okay, so that’s that guy. He doesn’t look quite as good as he did in the movie. But I kept on thinking I was going to lose that contest. I surfed stupid and it kinda worked. I paddled out thinking I was going to lose.
I just kept thinking, as long as I’m on the inside slot at least I’ll get a good wave and won’t make too much of a fool of myself. But heat-to-heat I kept astonishing myself. I hassled and hassled and I’ve never won a heat though at J’Bay by giving up the inside. Never. Even to this day.
I think Ross Williams needed a 6.83 in the final to catch me. It was a dud final. Fours, fives, sixes. I got the highest wave, a seven, and that was for a layback, kicked the tail out and I got a seven for it. It wasn’t until the hooter went that I actually twigged I’d won it. I kept assuming Ross would get the score he needed, but it never happened.
I can’t remember much about the party. I remember walking home later that night, blind drunk, and I walk in at two in the morning and here’s this local guy rolling my boardbag out the door. I’m walking into my room and this guy has got my coffin boardbag with six boards in it, including the board I’d just won the contest on.
I just think he’s one of the local crew and go, “Hey, mate!” hugging him, thinking he’s one of the gardeners or something. Then he kind of backs away and looks at me, and I kind of look at him, then it twigs –the bastard was stealing my boards. He’s just bolted out into the night, quick as a flash. I didn’t even piece it together… I was pretty green in those days.”