With Parko announcing that 2018 will be his last competitive lap, after 17 consecutive years on tour, we take a quick whizz through the career of one of the greatest surfers of all time.
1981: Born in Nambour. Of the famous people born there which include the golfer Ian Baker-Finch, the league player Billy Slater and goatboater Clint Robinson, he is the best surfer. With the biggest nose.
1992: Moves to the Gold Coast. On first day of school asks a blonde kid for an extra five cents to buy a paddle pop in the school canteen line. Fanning declines. Despite the snub, they remain friends for ever.
THANK YOU PARKO!! What you’ve achieved throughout your career is truly incredible. Style and Grace always showed through your surfing. But to me it’s been your friendship that I truly value. Thank you for being such a brother to me. Love you mate. You made yourself and your family proud!! @joelparko
1999: Wins the Billabong Pro J-Bay as an 18-year-old wildcard. Later says, “I’d just finished last in a contest in Reunion, turned up at J-Bay with a toothache, but then got my first glimpse of the wave and the pain went away,’’ he posted. “It was six foot and perfect from Boneyards to Impossibles, I paddled out through the keyhole, caught my first wave and that was it. I was gone. I lost my mind. Next thing I was standing there on stage holding the trophy, not sure what had just happened.”
The first time I went to J-Bay was 19 years ago. I was just a kid back then. I’d just finished last in a contest in Reunion, turned up at J-Bay with a toothache, but then got my first glimpse of the wave and the pain went away. It was six foot and perfect from Boneyards to Impossibles, I paddled out through the keyhole, caught my first wave and that was it. I was gone. I lost my mind. Next thing I was standing there on stage holding the trophy, not sure what had just happened, but I knew I’d found my second home. This is where it all started for me on tour, and that’s why I wanted to be here in J-Bay to let you know that this will be my last year on tour. The Pipe Masters in December will be my last event. The fire just hasn’t been there for a while now and I never want to surf without it, so it’s time to go look for it somewhere else. The tour has given me so much. So many memories, so many friends, the chance for my kids to see the world, but it’s time to move on to the next chapter. That means one last lap of the tour and I can’t wait to catch up with a lot of old friends and get a few waves along the way… starting this week at J-Bay.
1999: Finishes year as World Junior Champion.
2001: Wins a second World Junior Title, qualifies for CT on QS as well as surfing five CT events as a wildcard to finish 21st.
2002: Wins CT events at the Gold Coast and Sunset. Finishes runner-up in first full year on CT, the best ever finish for rookie. Scores front cover of Tracks, alongside Fanning and Dingo. The Cooly Kids are dressed in boardshorts and tuxedos and photographed inside a limousine with the coverline “Surfing’s New Superstars,” as part of their new film 3 Degrees. Suffice to say, 2002 was a big year.
2004: Wins the first of his three Bells trophies.
2005: Misses two events due to the birth of his first child Evie. “People often ask how difficult it is to compete, travel and raise a family,” Parko told Tracks recently. “But I honestly don’t know any different way to do it. I was just 24 when Evie was born. With Monica’s support I’ve combined my family and my career since the start.” No other World Champion has done the same.
2008: Scores first perfect 20 point heat at Pipe and claims first Triple Crown win.
2009: Wins the Gold Coast, Bells and J-Bay on the way to a huge ratings lead at the halfway stage of the year.
2009: July, sustains ankle injury, performed while attempting an aerial in Bali. Returns to competition, surfing through the pain. Three early round losses to Fanning however gift the title to his best mate. Finishes in Hawaii with a second Triple Crown.
2010: Cops a nasty finchop to the fin whilst freesurfing Snapper and misses the next four events. Come back to secure third successive Triple Crown.
2011: Employs coach Luke Egan and trainer Wes Berg. Gets properly fit for the first time. Finishes runner up, for the fourth time, to Kelly Slater.
2012: WINS A FUCKING WORLD TITLE!!!!!!
2013: Scores another perfect heat total on way to winning first CT event in Keramas, Bali. That remains the last of his 12 CT wins.
2015: Loses a reported $566,000 investment in the Gold Coast Titans. Finishes the year 13th, his worst non-injury affected year in his career. Stops supporting the Titans.
2016: Finished 2nd at Trestles, his last Final appearance.
July 2, 2018: Announces competitive retirement in J-Bay which will come into effect after Pipe. “I have no more fire or desire to want to win, I just want to surf,” he states. “I love surfing, but when it comes to putting on a singlet, I’m done with it.”
July 12, 2018:* Wins J-Bay, 19 years after he announced himself on the World Stage!
*may not have happened yet, but every appendage we have is crossed!