HEARTBREAK REEF

Posted in Photos, World Tour, SEP, 1

Tommy in his heat against Deano. //ASP/Robbo

This morning Parko was out in his boat on the Tweed River, catching tailor with his dog, Rocco. A long way from Tahiti you could say, but not so far away he hasn’t been keeping an eye on what’s been happening.

It was a big morning in Tahiti… a lot of crucial heats with careers on the line. Did you get up early and tune in?

I hoped to get up for Kieren and Andy’s heats, but they were a bit too early. I woke up at five minutes to six, just in time for Deano’s heat with Tommy. I actually found it that heat really hard to watch. It was two good mates of mine and you know the tour was pretty well over for whoever lost. I don’t think they’re going to be able to make it now this year. It was really tough to watch and unfortunately Tommy lost. I didn’t see Dingo’s round three heat but I heard he lost in the last 10 seconds. I’m so glad I didn’t watch it. That would have been heartbreaking. Poor fella, I’m really feeling for him.

I’m not sure where Dingo sits on the ratings now that he lost that heat, but I don’t think it looks good. I saw Rabbit down the street before and he was really upset about it.

It’s been heavy for all the guys who have their careers on the line, but it’s also produced some of the best surfing for a second round we’ve ever seen. You can smell the desperation, eh?

It was some of the best surfing I’ve seen in a second round, for sure. There was so much on the line and you could see it in the way those guys surfed. There was a lot of desperation, a lot of wrap-around cutbacks onto dry reef. I guess you’d never do that unless you were trying to win a world title or to save your career.

And you went fishing as soon as Kelly’s heat came on… lost interest in the world title race?

It’s early days. Definitely every result counts at the moment sure, but at the moment it’s about who’s surfing well and who can handle the big heats. Obviously Kelly can, we all know that, and I just got a text telling me he’d won his heat in the last couple of minutes. But I saw Jordy’s heat with Manoa and he looked nervous. Jordy shouldn’t have fallen in that barrel, it was a pretty basic barrel and I’m sure he’s thinking a bit about it now. You don’t get many chances like that to take Manoa down out there.

You called it after J-Bay that being world number one coming into Tahiti isn’t all beer and skittles because you generally get Manoa.

You know you’re going to get Manoa or Heiarii and they know the place so well it’s going to be hard. I’ve been beaten by wildcards so many times it’s not funny. And Jordy isn’t known yet as a Teahupoo surfer – which he might be in years to come – but the Tahitian guys thrive when the guy they surf against doesn’t know their spot as well as them, they sense it and they lift.

Can you read anything out of today in terms of a world title?

I think Jordy is feeling like he’s being chased. As the year goes on there will be more and more big heats, and he seems to work a lot better without that pressure. Whether you feel pressure or you don’t, everyone knows when a pressure heats on, you can try and block it out as much as you like and tell the world you’re cruising, but I reckon you’re better off acknowledging your state of mind. You’re better off feeling and dealing with the pressure rather than trying to block it out.

The small swell really opens the field up here. Who are you tipping?

There are a whole heap of guys who could win. I thought Wilko surfed really well, but I’m liking Mick. Four-foot for Mick out there is perfect because he’s the smartest chess player on tour, and at four foot it’s all going to be about finding the waves. The usual suspects will be there though, mostly. It’s become purely a wave catching contest. Unless it becomes consistent – which it won’t – it looks like it’s going to stay a wave catching contest. If Marco Polo can beat Bobby out there anything can happen. It’s not just surfing when the waves are like that.

You missing not being over there?

I think I just miss surfing, full stop. I missed competing at J-Bay because I was all ready to go and compete the week before, but now it’s been eight weeks without surfing, and I’d be happy to just get a wave, singlet or not. I’d trade 50 heats right now for just one wave on a little backbeach down the coast.


NORTHWEST X SOUTHEAST

Posted in Freestyling, Photos, JUL, 7
Good times at The Pin. // Shorty

You had time to make a cup of tea in some of these things. // Shorty

I got real emotional that day. Really deep and spiritual. I felt like Rasta with the dolphins. I came out of those tubes a better person… and hungry for another one. I was getting so into it. You could just stand there and let it all happen around you. You’ve got so much room and so much time in there. There’s times that day where I could have got deeper and been more in more critical spots, but I had so many that I was just standing there. The wind was coming up the face on that one and I just put my hand out in front of me to feel it. Totally at peace. It was just about the best day of waves I’ve ever had… and it was at home.

When I woke up that morning I didn’t have a clue we were going to get waves like that. We’d surfed five hours of perfect Kirra the day before and were pretty keen to back it up, but we didn’t have a clue what was coming. I knew it was big, that was all. It wasn’t dumb luck though that we got it on, we thought about it a bit. I woke up at 5am that morning and rang through and heard the wind was northwest up the coast, which is perfect for this place. Back in Cooly though the wind was southeast. I woke up and rang Louie and asked, “What’s happening? It’s south-east but it’s supposed to be north-west.” At my house it was just getting light and I could see to the south there were the biggest, darkest clouds, but when I looked to the north I could see this thin blue line on the horizon. That was the edge of the system, and on the other side the wind was northwest. I rang Deano and he was onto it, and I rang Louie and said we’re going. Louie had rang Mike Perry and asked, “What’s going on, is it north-west up there?” And he goes, “It’s north-west up there.” Louie’s at my place a few minutes later and we’re off.

It didn’t look real when we got there. It looked like this wave park, big peaks all over the place. It was a shifty lineup, but it was like towing into Sunset – big and slow moving, and you could position yourself really well. You could just line up the barrels and start toying with them because they were so perfect.

It’s a deepwater rivermouth, and there’s a really gnarly undercurrent. There’s so much water moving round out there. The river’s pouring out through there, and the water doesn’t stop moving. It’d be a really easy wave to drown on as I found out.

That was the hold down on the big throaty one. Shocked the shit out of me. Broke my board and I had a big cord and started climbing it. I was under for ages and it was that turbulent down there. I got to my board and it was broken and I reached out and grabbed the jagged broken fibreglass and just sliced up my hand, and then I went down again. I scrambled back up to the surface and got, like, a little pump breath in, just a quick one, and then the next one destroyed me. I had to just relax and let it do with me what it wanted. I came up from that one Louie was right there and he could see it I was fully spooked. I remember him yelling at me, “Take your leggie off!” I got on the sled seeing stars, and he got me out of the impact zone and into the channel. I was just drooling like a baby. I was still rattled. The thing cruelled me.

But I didn’t do a turn all day. Hang on, three cutbacks I did. We’d been out there since 7.30, and at about 11 I did my last turn. I went, we’re staying out here until the fuel runs out, so I wasn’t going for any manoeuvres to conserve energy. I shouldn’t have been out there on me 6’2” though. My board was humming. I needed a 6’6”, then I would’ve been back deeper in ‘em. My board wouldn’t go fast enough to get deep. Now looking back at the photos, I so should’ve been deeper. What was I doing? I shouldn’t complain though, should I? It was like a dreamscape… big and round and not that far from home.