Parko Signs His Life Away

Interview: Mimi LaMontagne
Yesterday, Joel Parkinson re-signed with long-term sponsor, Billabong. There wasn’t much specificity on just how long the champ was locked in, and with all the economic insecurity floating about, we thought it’d be a good idea to pick up a phone.

Reppin' since 11...

You re-signed with Billabong.
You know, I’ve been with Billabong since I was eleven, and truth be told this is only my third major contract that I’ve had. My relationship with the people and with the brand is so strong; I couldn’t not be a part of it. I’m a bit of a loyal person and I like the fact that I know everyone, that I’m comfortable. There are just too many positives in the company for me to not want to be a part of it.

How did you start with them, at eleven years old?
I was surfing and had a friend who was sponsored by them at the time, an older guy. He was probably late teens, early twenties. He told the team manager that he knew an up-and-coming kid, and then I got three pairs of boardshorts, some stickers and kinda, you know, put under the wing. Ever since then I’ve been there.

The office is just up the road as well, hey?
Yeah. It’s convenient not only for me, but for them too. It’s great for when something needs to be done, to be able to be close. You really feel like you’re on the same page when you live so close, especially to the head office. We have a lot of the same ideals, and they know me more than any other company.

What about all the drama, the ups and downs, with Billabong?

Everyone’s had a bit of a hit over the last few years, with the way the economy has been. But I think being locked in with Billabong is good. I’m actually passionate about the brand, you know, I want to see it start making inroads and thriving. When it’s doing well, I feel like I’m doing well. It’s one of those things… hopefully it’s firing again soon.

Two of his favourite toys...

How long did you re-sign for?
Ha. Good question. You know, I’ve re-signed until I’ve retired from professional surfing. And then I guess I’ll go into another role with them, and that’ll be the next chapter. I don’t know how many more years I’ll be on the tour… four or five, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be like Kelly and I’ll stay another ten. Who knows?

What’s the desk job gonna be?
I would become an ambassador of the brand. Ideally I’d like to keep in the water as much as I can, stay away from sitting behind a desk, but I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. Maybe I’ll organise trips or something and then I’ll just get to go on surf trips all the time. But really, what I’m doing after surfing is the farthest thing from my mind right now. Going into the season and all…

Are you excited?
I can’t wait. It’s so good. After you have a little break, you’re like fuck, you forget about all the things from last year, go through them and it gives you time to digest your strengths and weak points, good heats and bad heats. Once you kinda digest it all and throw out what you don’t want, it gives you that fresh feeling of starting a new year. It feels like that. It really does. Especially now that it looks like we’re about to have a really good week of waves coming our way on the Gold Coast. Really get that buzz back, that hunger to surf and to get ready.

If you feel like watchin’ a barrel fest, head down to the paddle-out at North Kirra on Sunday morning… Parko, Mick and a whole lotta swell.

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