After almost 20 years on tour, Parko has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the year.
He made the announcement earlier today via social media, while waiting for competition to get underway at J-Bay, where he took his first ever rookie tour win. At the same time his long time sponsor Billabong dropped the below clip, where Parko explains his decision to long time pals Fanning and Occy.
It’s a nostalgic trip and reminds us of all that Parko has achieved, with a little bit of free surfing action thrown in to get us excited for what he’ll get up to once freed from the confines of a singlet.
“I just really am at a point where I enjoy my surfing, and I must say, I enjoyed wearing a jersey for a long time, but that part of surfing to me is not as strong as what it was.” he explained of his decision. “I don’t think I have the fierceness in my blood. Doesn’t boil from putting a jersey on. My blood boils for surfing good waves now.”
“I’ll really miss the friendships. But I always thought, I’ll always be lucky after retirement that there’s a Tour stop in my backyard. So at least once a year, I’ll get to come down and see all the familiar faces, friends and family. And I’m excited to go back to some of these places when I don’t have to put a jersey on or there’s not an event on. I can’t wait to go to J-Bay when the event’s not on. Or go to Europe, see friends in France. And do stuff like go to Hawaii in January and February when events aren’t on. And I think that’s really when you’ll rock back on the friendships you made on Tour.”
“I mean, I was a prick of a competitor when I was younger. Arrogant, cocky. But, in saying that, that’s the thing that makes a great competitor. I love when I see young kids come on and they’ve got a bit of a swagger, and they’ve got their chest out when they walk down the beach. I love that. I think it’s awesome. It’s the way to improve yourself. To be better in a competitive environment. But, it does get old after a long time.”
As Mick points out in the above clip, the announcement takes the pressure off Parko, allowing him a unique headspace going into the final events of the year that very few on tour share. And as we’ve seen time and time again, when a surfer paddles out relaxed and enjoying themselves with nothing to prove is often the most dangerous of competitors.
“I’m going to have a smile on my face whether I’m last or first in these events.” he added. “But I’m going to try and get first for sure. I’m going to try to go out with a really good way.”
Cover photo: WSL // Damien Poullenot