Joel Parkinson has had a long, complicated relationship with the Fiji Pro. Despite a Hall of Fame career, including a World Title in 2012 and victories as wide and varied as a wildcard win at J-Bay to a Pipe Masters crown, a win at Cloudbreak has proved exasperatingly elusive. It hasn't been all lamentable circumstances, there's been a few trips to the Quarterfinals, most recently as 2015 when he scored a perfect 10 in a Round Four battle against Mick Fanning and Owen Wright. But it's easy to understand Parko's frustration. "That wave, I have a connection with it," he said, "it just hasn't been proven with the results."
As competitive careers creep closer to their end than to their beginnings, it's only natural to look back and ponder missed opportunities. Since the inaugural event back in 1999, Cloudbreak has proven to be a tough place to win for naturalfooters, even for a surfer with superior talent and technique like Parkinson. Only Kelly Slater (four times) and Andy Irons have raised the trophy for the left-foot-forward crew.
But, with only a finite number of opportunities left in his legendary time on the elite tour, he'll need to strike soon or forever ponder what might have been. For Joel, his impressions of Fiji seem bittersweet. "I've spent a lot of time there," said a reflective Parko, "I really enjoy the wave, I always feel comfortable out there." With a Round Three heat versus Jeremy Flores looming, time may be ticking down, but it's not over.