FLASHBACK: Him or Me

29 Oct 2018 0 Share

"My whole goal for this year was to win when I was having fun."

"My whole goal for this year was to win when I was having fun."

The Mick Story
By Tim Baker

He waded out into waist deep water and took another few moments to compose himself before paddling out. “That’s why I stood in the water for so long, I just wanted to not think about what else was going on around it. I just wanted to think about how I had to surf. I felt like that was the last piece of the puzzle before I was going to get out, just clear the head again and then go do it.”

Parko looked to be cruising through his heat, until Gavin jagged one of the best lefts of the day, for a 9.3, and suddenly Joel needed a 6.5 with only a few minutes remaining. The ocean went cruelly flat as the minutes ticked down.

Mick paddled out, just in time to hear the crowd scream as Gavin took off on his bomb. “I knew he only needed a seven to beat Joel, and I was like, it must be a good one. I duck dived, and as I came up I heard the beach screaming again and saw Gavin doing a cutback but he didn’t even hit the section. I could just see that he was that stoked. Then we were sitting there and I was pretty nervous. I knew Joel still only needed a six and it’s perfect Backdoor and Pipe and if that wave comes it’s going to be pretty easy to pull in and get the score. I had to keep paddling away. I couldn’t look at Dean and I couldn’t look at Joel or anyone. I just went, shit, just paddle away.” On the beach, coach Phil was providing a calm voice of authority, as the gravity of the moment began to dawn on Mick’s crew. “There’s a set, medium size. It will probably get there in time but then you’ve got to have the legs to surf it,” Phil commentated quietly to himself, as the final 30 seconds counted down.

Mick had seen the set coming too but could barely watch. “I ended up paddling out a little bit and then I saw Joel paddling for that wave and I thought, that wave is definitely a close out. And then Kekoa yells out, ‘That wave was no six.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ And I just started screaming.” Joel had taken a spectacular swan dive out of the lip on an ugly close out and lost the heat. The World Title was Mick’s. Dean, Gavin and Kekoa all offered their congratulations and then, in a supreme sporting gesture, Joel paddled back out from his humbling trip over the falls to give his friend a long awaited embrace.

“I knew he wanted to say something... I was just like, sorry, mate. And he was like, fucking ankle. But I obviously felt for him. I didn’t want to sit there and scream in front of his face. So I definitely did feel for him. It was hard for him.”

(Excerpt)


"I threw myself over the falls on that wave because I wanted to punish myself."

"I threw myself over the falls on that wave because I wanted to punish myself."

The Joel Story
By Sean Doherty

Mid-air, somewhere above First Reef Pipeline, Hawaii. December 12, 2.15pm.

“I threw myself over the falls on that wave because I wanted to punish myself. It was over. I’d lost. My whole year flashed before my eyes as I was falling; the good stuff, the bad stuff, the wins, the losses, my ankle. And I come up and Mick’s right there.”

Joel has just bombed out first heat at Pipe, gifting the title to Mick. He’s in the water again for the moment when Mick wins the world title, just as he was in 2007, somewhat less euphoric this time around. “You know what? It was relief more than anything,” said Joel of the moment he and Mick embraced. “It was over. We sat there and looked at each other and said, ‘Fuck me, glad that’s over, eh?’”

Joel comes in to a packed beach yet no one approaches him as he hits the sand. They sense a man in need of space. The girls in Joel’s backyard are crying.

The guys are staring out to sea. It’s over. He walks up into the backyard and heads straight around the side of the house. He dispatches his surfboard to the
afterworld before heading inside. “I ran into the shower and sat there and bawled my eyes out. Monica come in and she was crying too. She said, ‘Do you need anything?’ I said, ‘Beer.’ I was shattered. Never really felt anything like it. When I first come in I was hating the people who beat me, then I started hating myself, then I started hating the world.”

Slumped in the shower he knows Mick’s heat ends in 20 minutes, and he knows he has to be there. He emerges with a beer, and one by one his circle come over and offer words. Monica, Luke, Andy. Occ turns him around. “Occ said you’ve got to be proud of everything, not just what you’ve accomplished this year, but who you are. He was putting more of a spin on my life. He said I should be really proud of what I’ve done, not be down and depressed but take pride in it and run with it.”

“Losing the title to Mick then carrying him up the beach 20 minutes later was tough, but I knew it was not only the right thing to do, it’s exactly what Mick would be doing for me. There was a lot of emotion there, and it kind of put more of a smile on my face rather than sitting up the house on my own feeling miserable. Carrying Mick, Deano had one side, I had the other. Deano’s got about five yards up the beach and he goes, ‘This is far enough, ay?’ And that’s when I laughed.”

(Excerpt)


This story is one of many great surfing tales, currently featured in SW400: The Best of 400 Issues of Surfing World. On sale now. 

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