Courtesy of Inertia; Words by Jed Smith
This was. One of. The greatest. Wins. In surfing history. A 21-year-old goofy footer, from the beach breaks of Brazil against Joel Parkinson, former World Champion and the undisputed king of Behind the Rock Snapper – one of the most technical, dangerous pieces of right point in the world – at that very place. And he did it, convincingly so, leaving the Australian answerless with still two minutes remaining in the final.
Parko began the event leagues ahead of the field. It’s his home, but he isn’t so much influenced by the wave at Snapper Rock, as much he is it. As a heaving five-footer doubles up and prepares to surge behind the rock, Parko is there, surging with it. As it throws into a spastic tube, Parko is air-dropping with it. He descends with but a millimeter of fin in the water, catches a rail, stiffens up and under the lip, pumps as the backwash hits, gets over the wedge, the wave breathes, he holds on, it spits, and he comes out behind it. It is a sight to behold. Current Big Wave World Champion, Peter Mel, who was calling the action from a jet ski in the channel, couldn’t believe it. The final, like the semi-final, had seemed a foregone conclusion. He was no less damaging out on the face, hooking, jamming, swiping and gouging every bend and curve Snapper could throw at him. But he lost. Lost to a kid who, two short years ago, had one of the worst backhands on Tour.
I was there when he made his debut, standing on the rocks, not ten meters from the supposed Brazilian wunderkind, as he flapped and bogged his way along the frothy Snapper burgers he, for reasons only he knows, kept deciding to catch. He was terrible and had you told me he would have one day beaten Joel Parkinson at Behind the Rock Snapper, I would have said, “Damn, Brazilian man, you gotta give up that jiu-jitsu. All them headlocks be messing with your head.”
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