Typically such an award goes to a no-talent loser, but Joel could still win the event!
It’s the final day of the Half Decent Fiji Pro and the waves are pumping! Small, but bloody beautiful. Eights and nines are falling like conservative leaders and it’s a pleasure to watch.
I won’t steal Longtom’s thunder, as his daily wraps have been, by in large, better than the actual webcast, but there’s one situation I must bring up.
We know Joel Parkinson as many things. A style master. A tube hound. A world champ.
We don’t know Joel as a limp-dick pussy. As someone who would take any less than a mile if given half an inch. He is, or at least has always been, a ruthless competitor.
But recently we’ve seen a different side of the Coolie kid. There have been whispers that this could be his last year on Tour, and in that way he’s treating the season as year-long vacation rather than a legitimate title run. Ronnie Blakey, before the start of Joel’s heat today, remarked how loose and happy Parko has seemed throughout the season.
So that’s the context we’re working with, and it sheds an important light on two sportsman-like gestures that we wouldn’t necessarily expect from Joel Parkinson. Both of them in Fiji, both of them relating to priority.
Parko has a notorious history with priority. He’s the guy who, in the early-2000s, was infamous for commanding the inside position during non-priority portions of a heat. Through years of continually stealing the inside, Parko created such a psychological advantage that guys literally stopped trying to compete for the first wave of the heat.
Now back to Cloudy. In round three heat nine, Joel faced the formidable Jeremy Flores in windswept afternoon conditions. With similar experience and approach, the heat was essentially a toss-up. Joel knew he would need any advantage he could get to ensure victory.
Then it happened — a mid-size double-up rolled into the lineup, Jeremy holding priority. The Frenchman saw the lump, made a motion toward the beach, but quickly realized he wouldn’t be able to catch it. He put his hand on the nose to signify non-commitment, but the judges didn’t buy it. Priority switched to Joel.
We later learned, in Joel’s post-victory interview, that he disagreed with the judges’ assessment. “You don’t want to win like that,” he told Barton.
Today, another incident. Stu Kennedy took the first wave of the set and fell somewhere down the line. Joel took number two and made it a bit further. Parko’s ski made its retrieval quicker than Stu’s, resulting in Joel’s earlier arrival to the lineup. Priority was given to Joel, despite the WSL’s constant reminders that in such a situation, priority would likely go to the person who took the first wave of the previous set.
Joel wasn’t happy. He motioned, for maybe ten seconds, in a way that demonstrated his disdain for the call. It should have gone to Stu, his hands said.
That’s when Ronnie reintroduced the Jeremy situation, mentioning that not only was Joel unhappy with that call, but that he allegedly told Jeremy, mid-heat, to take whichever wave he wanted. That the judges messed up and he shouldn’t have to suffer because of it.
I’m not sure if he said the same to Stu, but the Lennox-local took a nothing wave shortly after which presumably quelled the situation. Either way, this is one of the most sportsman-like gestures I’ve seen in some time. That it came from a dogged competitor like Joel Parkinson makes it all the more interesting.
Joel won the heat by way of a last-second seven, which was perhaps facilitated by his own karmic justice.
Which makes me think — maybe Joel hasn’t actually lost the competitive edge. Maybe he’s just found a new method to gain favor with the Ultimate Judge (AKA God, AKA Richie Porta).
He surfs against Bede in Quarter four.