Both have been called bridesmaids but which would you want standing next to you on your wedding day?
An era of professional surfing is coming to a close and we, the spectators, have a crystalline moment of hindsight at our disposal. We know the past. But, standing at this minute, how will that past be transcribed into the future?
Freddy Patacchia Jr., CJ Hobgood, Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow and Joel Parkinson have either/maybe should/or are thinking about hanging up the singlet. Fred and CJ will drop into the warm sands of time and be remembered fondly alongside the likes of Ross Williams and Saxon Boucher. Kelly, of course, is King Kelly. His place in history is assured. But what about Taj Burrow and Joel Parkinson?
The two have defined the epoch as much as anyone, without a doubt, but how will their accomplishments, personal style, skills be remembered?
Taj was electric. A prodigy even. And after turning down the tour in 1997 (the first and only to ever do!) he stormed the barn in 1998 winning rookie of the year. What promise he held, competitively, and yet seventeen years on all the boy mustered was two runners-up. Tuck into the rest of story here on Matt Warshaw’s masterwork and then let us get down to brass tacks. Does Taj never winning a world title matter? He is many, many children’s favorite surfer even still because he both is and was very exceptional. But does that exceptional talent taint his epitaph seeing as he never hoisted the trophy?
Joel was graceful. Smooth is what the people say. And during his first year on tour (2001) also won rookie of the year honors but the decade plus that followed were filled with ouch. He lived at the top of the leaderboard but there was always something that kept him from the grand prize. In 2012 he finally hoisted the trophy. The number one surfer in the world! But only once. And, after you brush up on your Parko here on Matt Warshaw’s masterwork let us get down to brass tacks once again. Does Joel’s one title matter? He is loved, his style emulated because he is both is and was a fine surfer. But does that fine surfing yielding only one title dirty his historical relevance?
Both have been called bridesmaids but which would you want standing next to you on your wedding day? Which is the greatest bridesmaid in surfing’s history?