“I honestly I wouldn’t have a problem if PWC were banned on the Superbank,” Joel Parkinson tells Tracks. “Every swell there is a few skis out there that shouldn’t be there, being reckless and dangerous. The place is a circus and banning jet skis might help that a little.” 

The use of PWC by surfers has been well documented since the Cyclone Gita swell and has led to a fair amount of online vitriol against the surfers in question and calls for skis to be banned on the Superbank. The Queensland Government even stepped in, with the Maritime Safety department releasing an official Facebook video reminding PWC users of the Tow Surfing Code of Conduct. Yes, folks, there is a Tow Surfing Code of Conduct. 

Parko wining the Quiksilver Pro at Kirra back in 2009. Photo: WSL/Kirstin

“The banning of the jetskis might help,” continues Parkinson. “However it’s the crowd that is the bigger issue. Look, Kirra has never not been uncrowded, or without its frustrations. However we have already lost the Superbank to the rest of the world. Any enjoyment surfing out there has been taken away for the locals. That’s why Kirra is even more special now than ever. It breaks once every few years and it is the last stretch where there the normal lineup rules that apply to every other break on the planet still operate.” 

Now Parkinson was loathe to engage in this debate, having already been on the receiving end of abuse, both in the line-up and on social media. Any conversation on localism will always cause intense debate as it remains one of surfing’s most uncrackable nuts. Yet the sheer numbers on the Gold Coast, and the Superbank in particular, make it a unique case study. In the 12 months up to 2017, 4.9 million international and Australian tourists visited the Gold Coast. Now not all those visitors surf, but a less empirical approach would be to just look at the Superbank every time it breaks. Surfing has never seen a mass of humanity like it. As Parko says, “I just don’t know how the locals are supposed to accommodate 600 surfers. Is that even possible?”

And unlike other world class breaks like say Pipeline, Mundaka, Jeffreys Bay, at the Superbank, or even most average spots around Oz, the local hierarchy has been buckled out of shape by the sheer weight of numbers on the Goldy. The result is a type of mild surfing anarchy where all the normal lineup rules no longer apply. Is it any wonder that surfers who grew up and are active in the local surf community feel the use of a PWC might be justified in trying to get a wave at their local break? 

“Look, I don’t have a solution,” says Parko. “I do know that I would never travel to Hawaii or the south coast of NSW or wherever and paddle out and think that I have a right to the catch the best waves. However this is pretty weird situation we are dealing with here on the Goldy. If visiting surfers can put themselves in the locals position then that might help the situation.” 

Parko enjoying the Superbank when the only crowds he has to worry about are the ones watching. Photo: WSL

With the Quik Pro Gold Coast due to start in less than two weeks, the crowds aren’t about to go anywhere soon. Ironically for Parkinson his best chance to catch waves at his homebreak will come at the busiest time of the year on the Superbank. Heat motivation shouldn’t be an issue ...