Parko talks about his plans to compete in the 2012 Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard Race…
So you’re actually doing this, huh?
Yep, it’s happening. I’m really excited.
How long has the idea of doing the Molokai race been floating around in your head?
It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long while now, but I never thought I’d ever get the chance. It’s always been on the bucket list but I never thought it’d come together until I’d finished with the tour.
How much of the race’s vibe have you soaked up over the years?
I’m always watching it every year. We’re generally in J-Bay when it’s on and I’m always checking it out. I guess Jamie (Mitchell, 10-time winner) is the king of it and being a Gold Coast surfer I’ve always been interested in the race and how he went. It’s been in the back of my mind to give it a go one year and experience it.
Are you doing it solo or as a team?
I’m doing it as a team with Wes (Berg). He’s one of the best board paddlers in the world and a guy I’ve trained with for years now, so he’s a pretty handy guy to do the race with.
How do you think you’ll go?
[Laughing] I’ll just be happy to finish. I’m there for the experience, not the win. It’s about being in the ocean, that’s why I’m doing it.
And you’re hearing the Kelly might be doing it as well?
Yeah… [laughing] maybe he doesn’t want Jamie to get to 11 Molokai wins! Nah, I reckon he’ll be doing it for pretty much the same reasons I’m doing it. I reckon he’s probably been thinking about doing it for a while too. It’ll be good having him in the race.
How was your first training session?
It was unreal. I did a two-hour paddle the other day from Kingscliff to Tweed. I’d never paddled boards on my knees like that and I didn’t realise it’s actually quite painful. I’ve got no skin left on my knees and when I came home I had so many bandages on my knees I looked like Petero Civoniceva. But I’ve never knee paddled so I’m learning from scratch, learning to paddle them in open ocean. It’s good to do something I’m a full kook at and something I’ve had to start from scratch. It’s good to be humbled occasionally. There’ll be a lot of training between now and the end of July, but I’ve got a month in Fiji and I’ll have my paddleboard with me, so I reckon I’ll be doing a few figure-eights around Tavvy and Namotu.
How does the race balance with you chasing the surfing world title?
The tour and the title is my number one thing and it always will be, but it’s good right now to think there’s something else, another goal I’ve put in front of myself. For the past 10 years or longer my goal has always been the same thing, and that goal will still be there, but it’s good to add another one in the mix and it fits into a pretty good break in the tour. There are probably a few critics who’ll say it won’t help my surfing on tour, but I already juggle a lot in my life between my surfing and my family, that I think sometimes I’m a better competitor when I don’t think about it too much. I think a bit of distraction can be a good thing, but it’s one of those things that I enjoy, and if I enjoy it, it’ll help the other parts of my life. And the thing is there’s so much mental and physical discipline required in doing it, you could argue it’s actually going to help my surfing on tour. There’s nowhere to hide out there. I want to get out there and do some hard work. Like I said it might be something I really love and I might go back again one year and have another go, even do it solo, but it’s uncharted water for me and I’m stoked I’m throwing something fresh and different into the mix.
So what’s the plan for the race?
Wes paddles the first 30 miles while I fish out the back of Uncle Bryan’s boat, then I jump on the board as we come in through Diamond Head with a mile to go and the cameras appear. “Geez, Parkinson looks fresh!”