Teahupoo or “Chopes” in Tahiti is often referred to as “The Worlds’ Heaviest Wave” for good reason. The Pacific Ocean swells hit the shallow coral reef and drains into a formidable left hand break that can only be ridden by the most experienced of surfers.
Once a year the best 34 surfers in the world descend upon the tiny Tahitian fishing village for the Billabong Pro – The seventh stop on the Men’s World Surf League Championship Tour.
The green mountains in the background, the crystal blue water, crazy barrels and heavy wipeouts make this the most anticipated event of the year. It’s also by far the best to watch.
Halfway through the World Surf League season and Aussie Matt Wilkinson is the in the lead position, closely followed by 2016 World Champ John John Florence and South African Jordy Smith. This will be a huge event to set up the chase for the world title.
August 11-22, 2017
How to Watch
We got to catch up with Billabong team rider, 2012 World Champion and all round legend Joel Parkinson. We discussed his Surf Fitness, injuries and the head space it takes to be the best in the world.
For stability I stand on an old board on a Swiss ball and pull cables It’s about quick activation of the core. In the gym I do a lot of surf-specific stuff, not weight-bearing stuff.
People think hacks are all about strength in the legs but they’re about rotation
I mimic the same manoeuvre in the water on land with the cable machine.
Four years ago I severed my plantar fascia. It was a nasty gash — the board really cut my foot deeply. Since that injury, running has been hard. It’s the scar tissue: it’s still a big hard ball.
My go-to exercise is chinups. At the end of a heavy session, I go: “Let’s wrap it up with five sets of five chins.” It’s a hard way
to end. I have a love-hate relationship with the rower, too. I hate it but I know the feeling at the end of a three-minute kay is satisfying — but painful.
I don’t have an overriding fitness philosophy. For me, there are weeks where I’ll start training on a Monday and Tuesday then the surf gets good, and I drop it and go surfing, because my priority
is always surfing.
I feel more human when I get in the ocean I’ve got to get that salt on my skin. I usually do an hour-and-a-half in the gym a day,
but if there are waves I can surf four hours at a time.
My diet is simple: steak and vegies, fish
Sometimes I blow out like everyone. I don’t watch it too bad but I don’t mow down pizzas and Macca’s either. My wife is Italian so she’s great with pastas. She’s a top cook.
I didn’t want to be the world’s most losing surfer.
But it was more satisfying having to earn the world title in 2012 after so long [Parkinson had been runner-up four times]. If I’d won it straight away it wouldn’t have been so sweet. I had started thinking: Is this always going to elude me?
In 2009 it was really close with Mick Fanning, and it was a heartache losing Once the soreness of the loss had worn off, I used it to fuel myself to dig in harder to get closer and win.
The year I won I had this calming feeling I let go of the tension. I was happier in my life: I’d just had a son, my last kid — life started to get easier. My personal stuff was in order and that reflected in the water. It’s a cliché but it’s true.
Before the final I couldn’t breathe I knew that Kelly Slater [Parkinson’s closest rival for the
title] — he’s a freak — was looking frustrated in his heat and I started to think, “Uh-oh, this could really happen.” I was lying on the bed and my heartrate was 190, and I was lying still and I couldn’t move.
If the waves in a contest are mediocre I pay more attention I work out a strategy where I’m going to start, and where I’m going to be. If the waves are really good in a contest, I can’t watch — I have to go sit in the bathroom, because I have to calm myself down.
I want to be out there.
The key to my success is being persistent You don’t stop learning. Always be aware of the ocean — it’s soothing and good for
the brain, but you’re not out there to relax. Always be on guard and ready for anything.
Never lose sight of the enjoyment in what you do.
I would forego winning a contest just to have an amazing day surfing with friends.
I was in a crucifix position with the leash around my neck and no pants on That was my worst wipeout — in Indonesia. It was a big open ocean wave. I had
a good-size barrel but it was a bit too deep — I fell backwards and got my legrope caught around my neck.
The board was pulling me up and I was choking myself, then I hit the bottom and my boardshorts came completely off. I had a big
tiger claw where I hit the reef on the side. Somehow I managed to get my head resting on the board and got the leash off.