“Sitting behind rock, it’s not a cockiness thing or about trying to prove anything,” Joel Parkinson told Tracks after defeating Pat Gudauskas with a Snapper Rocks masterclass. “I was sitting with my cousin Mitch watching before my heat and he kept going, ‘Look at that one, there’s another one, there’s another one, and another.’ It seemed obvious.” 

Parko had been the first surfer to sit behind the rock this morning and immediately nabbed the best two tube rides of the morning. With every surfer looking for the tiniest of margins to beat their opponents, Parko’s superiority on the slab of sand that sits right in front the outcrop was all to obvious. Now Parko might not know that those rocks are part of the Neranleigh-Fernvale Beds,  consisting of quartzo-feldspathic greywackes, conglomerates, shale, chert and jasper, and basaltic volcanics, but he sure knows hows to take off and pull in right in front of them.  

Parko utilising his secret jump-off. Photo: Swilly

“There was a lot of opportunities out there this morning,” he continued. “The heat that Wilko lost for example, there was a bunch of clear undeniably high scoring waves out there. On the waves they were catching, they could have done three or four turns before they even took off.”

The question is then why didn’t other surfers take Parko’s lead. Sure, local knowledge is important, but these are best surfers in the world. Taking off and dealing with the famous backwash is surely within their capabilities. 

“I’m not sure,” said Parko. “It’s not a mental thing, it’s not a safety thing, or talent. Maybe it is a situation where they decide to stick with their opponents. I suppose there is local knowledge in knowing where to go, but for me today the best waves were coming from back there. You just had to wait for them."

Parko drifting over the roof as the fans get close. Photo: Swilly

In doing that Parko reminded everyone just how dangerous he is at home. He hasn’t won here since 2009, but today’s performance show that he always has to considered a contender. With big guns like John John Florence, Matt Wilkinson et all, falling, his chances can only improve. 

And that’s before Kirra comes into play. If Parko’s experience behind the rock gives him an advantage, the bigger playing field of his favourite ever spot, will only further stack the pack to his advantage. 

“Look, it’s not an amazing swell, but it’s a swell,” Parko said. “To surf at Kirra would be amazing, but we’ll see how it goes. Snapper or Kirra, they are both pretty good options.” Especially for a guy who is one of the best ever surfers at both of em. 

Joel cruising with Dean Morrison in the competitor's area. Photo Swilly