Joel Parkinson’s Retirement Bash Was Everything The North Shore Needed
Sights and sounds from the best night of the Vans Triple Crown
An exclusive rager at the Billabong Pipe house, the Parko party started off with free drinks and morsels for all, served by a slew of attractive hostesses.
While those consumables appeased the masses, Ronnie Blakey took the stage and commenced what would be a night to never forget.
“We’re not just celebrating the competitor, the athlete, the man,” said Blakey. “We’re celebrating that nose, and the wonderful smile that lives in its shadow.”
The Parkinsons, ladies and gents.
The night only got funnier from there, but first, Joel’s wife Monica took the stage and delivered a heartfelt memoriam to her big-beaked hubby. She talked about meeting Joel at 16, having a kid at 21, marrying before 25, and spending the rest of their time traveling the world together (which, Monica says, is a perk they’ll be saddened to lose upon Joel’s retirement).
Then Joel’s teenaged daughter Evie took to the stage. She was easily the best speaker of the night.
“Fifteen years ago,” Evie started, “my dad was awoken at 4 AM to a call from my mom, saying she was pregnant… Now they call me the happiest accident ever.”
Evie went on to recall a moment from 2006, when as a toddler, she was inconsolably crying on the beach at Sunset. Before paddling out to his final at the World Cup of Surfing, Joel sat with Evie in the sand and watched Dora the Explorer with her. He went on to win the event, despite having the “D-d-d-d-d-Dora” theme song stuck in his head.
Evie then explained a moment earlier in the year when, while driving together in the car, her dad proposed the concept of retiring at the J-Bay event.
“I said no way and turned the music back up,” Evie proclaimed.
She wanted nothing to do with her dad not continuing to bring them around the globe. Joel would eventually settle on retiring at Pipe.
Joel’s younger daughter, Macy, shared the same sentiment as her mom and sister.
“Good luck with your new job commentating,” Macy claimed. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Australian surfing’s most regal representative.
All the while tears trickled down Parko’s sunkissed skin.
It was revealed by a Billabong employee that Joel specifically requested for everyone involved with the night to wear the same funky collared shirt, all but proving Evey’s earlier claims about her dad having “awful fashion sense”.
“Mom is gonna throw out those camo cargo pants that you always wear as soon as you’re not looking,” Evie hilariously proclaimed.
And so what if Parko has dad style and dad jokes? These things only him more lovable.
Kieren Perrow was next on the mic, and beyond relaying a touching message of his own, he passed along Joel’s longtime shaper, Jason Stevenson’s, retirement send-off. It was economical both in content and context.
“Joel, I love you and you’re an inspiration,” JS said, “but now you’re paying wholesale for boards.”
The crowd roared and finally Mick Fanning took center stage.
Mick Fanning was never going to miss this party.
“What can I say? This guy’s the best,” Fanning told the crowd about his pal Joel. “He gave me a World Title in 2009, and a Teahupo’o title in 2012. He’s a good starter, Joel, he just can’t finish.”
Mick went on to educate Joel’s daughter Evie about the truth of that 4 AM pregnancy call, which included the 21-year-olds Mick and Joel driving who-knows-where in the wee hours of the Spanish morning, and Mick nearly swerving off the road and killing them both when he heard the news.
“I was so shocked,” Mick laughed.
Finally, Mick divided the crowd with one final, homoerotic anecdote. You can watch it below.
Mick then closed his speech with a tear-inducing quote.
“Joel, I’m a better person just for having you in my life. Maybe I’ll get ya on The Search one day.”
At that point Joel, the man who this whole evening was intended for, finally took the mic. First he thanked Billabong for over 20 years of support.
“I’ll never have another sponsor,” Parko said. “[Billabong] is just who I am. Put it in my gravestone… Just keep paying me [laughs].”
He continued into more serious territory.
“I just want to say that I’m proud of myself,” Joel stated. “I take pride in what I do and what I’ve achieved. It’s not until I made this decision to retire that I’ve been able to appreciate all of that. And I feel happy that I can say this in front of you all without sounding like a big headed pig. I’m fucking proud.”
If you can even believe it’s possible, the crowd simultaneously roared and sobbed. Parko has touched so many people in this surfing community, and tonight, more than ever, it showed.
Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, yeah, Robert Trujillo has played in some bands.
Metallica’s Kirk Hammett.
Soon after the speeches, a ragtag band comprising two Metallica members, the drummer from Queens of the Stone Age, and a singer from Ugly Kid Joe took the stage. They murdered the show with hard rock hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Not even a heavy Hawaiian squall could deter the hundreds of rabid Joel-fans-turned-head-bangers, who braved the rain while chanting lyrics to Black Sabbath, ACDC, and Motorhead hits.
Parko even joined them on stage for a bit, stealing a mic to sing Hells Bells to an adoring crowd. The Champ then tried his hand at crowd surfing, which we quickly discovered Joel is much worse at than actual surfing. He fell onto their hands prong-down, which is never a good move. The crowd loved it nonetheless.
Eventually things got fairly out of control, with a moshpit forming in front of center stage. A lot of young, drunk surfers were involved, as were Steph Gilmore and industry veterans like Sean Doherty, Jimmy Wilson, and Stab’s own Ashton Goggans, who lost his family ring in the melee but managed to find it shortly after.
Joel Parkinson fronting The Wedding Band for “Hell’s Bells.”
While the veterans were out in full force, the next generation didn’t pass up the historic opportunity.
This “push circle” (as the Aussie girls were calling it) produced smiles all around, and despite a few beer-drenched shirts and muddy shoes, there were no serious injuries.
Except, of course, for the person who tried to enter the party via the Billabong house’s viney beach wall, who upon detection was hurled back onto the sand by a well-formed security guard. It’s at least an eight foot drop from the wall to the beach. Hopefully they’re alright.
Overall, it was remarkable how many important surfing figures were on-hand to celebrate Joel on his official send-off.
As previously mentioned, Mick Fanning was in attendance and in fine form. Steph Gilmore was on-site and looking dapper, despite her appearance in the mosh. Bruce Irons arrived late but arrived nonetheless. Shane Dorian, the Harringtons, Dingo, Herbie Fletcher, Occy, Gabriel Medina, and Eddie fucking Rothman were there to celebrate the Champ.
Miss Stephanie Gilmore.
Joel Parkinson, Bruce Irons, and Mick Fanning.
It was the best night Stab has had all Triple Crown season, and we can’t imagine anyone would have anything different to say about Parko’s retirement blowout.
Click through the gallery above, or scroll south for snapshots from the evening. This one will go down in the history books.
An escaped Australian Silverback named Jay Davies.
Shane and Jackson Dorian.
Pat Tenore and Lyndie Irons.
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