Baby Take it Off!: The Middle Finger Seen ‘Round the World

posted by / Blogs / March 13, 2013

Kelly Slater & Joel Parkinson. Photo: ASP/Carey
Kelly Slater & Joel Parkinson. Photo: ASP/Carey


Baby Take It Off!

Kelly Slater vs. Joel Parkinson in the final of the Quiksilver Pro was an almost classic. This past year’s champion, Joel, battled this past past year’s champion (and past past years stretching back into the mists), Kelly, in what was alternately described as “warbley” and “throaty.” There were barrels and high scores and higher scores. With three minutes remaining, Joel needed a near perfect ten to overtake Kelly and then he caught a near perfect wave. He stood tall in the barrel and eyed down the line and eyed Kelly Slater paddling right in on him. Kelly had priority, you see, so he could do as he wished. Joel, still standing in the barrel, raised his middle finger in response. He, in fact, raised both middle fingers but one hovered around his crotch.

And what is to be made of this moment? Is Kelly a jerk for paddling? Is Joel a jerk for flipping? I will suggest that both did almost exactly as they were supposed to do. Kelly clearly and deeply loves competition. He used the rulebook to trump surfing etiquette and slam the door on his rival at his rival’s home break. Joel, normally calm and cool, allowed the heat of the moment to overtake him, which is such a pleasure in the standard, false “Ahhh-good-on-him-he-got-the-better-waves-today” modesty. Hate boiled. There was no Cheshire Cat grin.

The only thing missing was a NASCAR-style full out brawl on the beach afterward. Joel and Luke Egan (his coach) vs. Kelly and Belly (his caddy). Four grown men bloodying each other’s faces and reputations. That would have removed the almost from the equation. That would have made it the greatest moment in surfing history.

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  • Craig

    Sweet Jamaican Pipe Dreams

  • Chongo

    Almost Chazzy-Chaz… an all out brawl would have been out-of-bounds and tasteless. As you stated, Kelly was in his right to pull in. And Joel being the World Champ gentleman that he is, took it to the appropriate level of professional competition. Classic as it stands. You should look into writing comic books or something.

  • m.l.

    What do you think would have happened and what do you think would have been said had the roles been reversed?

  • masniffur

    thats how aussies wave ”hello mate”……

  • andrew

    Didn’t Parko drop Egan? I’m pretty sure it’s just his trainer for the first half of the tour and his shaper for the second half. And Egan wasn’t coaching Joel last year when he won, but he was coaching Joel a bunch of years before when he did not. Do you follow? (Of course you do. You write for Surfing.) And so: Why the fuck would he bring that goddammed hex back? And then why would you consider that hex as anything but Joelie-kryptonite when shit was thrown down after? Fucking stupid. That heat was radical. And your title is cute in a What Youth way, not in a funny way. Tired, man.

  • Marcus

    Not even close to the best heat ever… But a classic moment for sure, let me know when JJ flips off kelly in the tube at backdoor in the pipe masters final and then you can say it was almost classic…

  • Mik

    I’m just glad that Kelly did it. He is who he is for that reason. As mentally capable as he is physically capable = 11 World Titles.

    Not so sure about the double finger thing…

    Last time he did a solo finggy, he nearly had his heal sliced off.

    We are culpable for our actions, ya know? Especially when placed in front of gromdom.

  • Mik

    NOTE: the “single finggy” comment above is in reference to a Joel / Billabong ad.

    I kinda winced when i I saw it…

    sometimes my intuition is clear.

  • Kelly’s Corner

    In defense of Kelly:
    1. Joel blocked him at Pipe against Irons in 03.
    2. Joel was way over-scored on that 8.8
    3. Joel snow-balled the shoulder at the Trestles final in 0
    4. Joel would have done the same thing to Kelly

  • Norcal

    Funny stuff! Great moment, the picture says it all…They are all laughing at us caring!


    Thanks for this: “That would have made it the greatest moment in surfing history.”

    Your conclusion is spot on and made me laugh out loud in my room while reading it!

  • Jimmy the Saint

    A really important heat. Can Kelly bounce back and beat Parko on his home turf, or can Parko make the point that his Championship wasn’t a flash in the pan and he is the best. Win the final, and he has broken Kelly, and will win the tour this year, lose and Kelly looks like he is heading for number 12. Am I reading too much into this heat, maybe, but the King is back and the King is still the King!

  • Keep It Real III

    World Champions are supposed to act like World Champions. Flipping Kelly off is okay if no one sees you do it, but everyone did. Even if it was somewhat in jest, the Gromms saw it and only know what they see. Makes Joel look like a spoiled brat that didn’t get his way. Joel should be thanking his blessings that the judging system changed to accommodate his style of surfing. If the judging criteria would have continued like it did two years ago, Joel would not be World Champ. His surfing is absolutely amazing and he has the best style, but he has very little air game and after a while his horizontal laybacks look repetitive. The best part is that Kelly at 41 kicked his ass in front of his home crowd at his home break.

  • Ben

    It was a good, not great moment in pro surfing, but absolutely worthy of the two best in the world right now (though of course you could add John John and Dane to that list). The flip off was, if nothing else, genuine. Best moment in pro surfing was AI over Slater at 2006 Pipe Masters. AI was the only guy who both wanted to win as bad as Slater AND had the ability to back it up.

  • matt obrien

    billabong Joel ad campain 2.0 or “Quiksilver vs. Billabong: winner takes all” ad campain. either way, it has given the 2013 Tour something to talk about & some fire!

  • Matt

    It sucks loosing, right joel?
    Oh… sorry, against Kelly you’re keen on it.
    Maybe next time, spoiled brat, next time…

  • Revo

    You gotta feel sorry for Joel: his home spot, his home crowd. But I totally disagree with you. After such a gesture he deserved to loose. And you know what? He did. You’re not worthy of the title joel

  • shark

    Its really funny to me that so many people think the gesture was un-called for or inappropriate or will somehow scar grommets. Are you serious? What lineups are you surfing in? I hear people drop F-bombs constantly in the water, I see fights and other stupidity in the lineups on a daily basis. I dont think Joels little gesture is going to shock very many people. Surfing will always be raw and multinational corporations who profit from it will continue to try to put it in a box and they will fail as long as surfing is surfing.

  • Scoob

    Some world champs, couldn’t even hold down their own spot as a 41-yr old schooled them, snatching victory right out of their hands like a fresh bar of wax from a grom. Kelly then proceeded to rub salt in Joel’s wounds by saying that Parko won the title, but lost to him twice (read:you’re a Damien Hardman champ, punk; you made up the numbers, but nobody really believes you are the best, except your sponsors and your wife. Now the mother-in-law…, that’s a different story). Kelly keeps these guys honest. Advice to Parko and all the other fitness freaks: fire the trainers, you don’t need to be any fitter to beat Kelly. Hire a coach/strategist instead.

  • dang3rtown

    How is this in any way a big deal? This is nothing more than a little mid-game trash talking! Get real people!

  • Manilow

    “snatching victory right out of their hands like a fresh bar of wax from a grom”….now that was some funny sh#t.

  • Thomas

    Not a big deal. Just playful fun. If you watched the webcast they hugged both joked about it as soon as both of them we on stage. Please don’t make this isn’t something it is not.

  • WhiteKnight

    What I hate about the AUS ownership of it all is no fines??? If it was Joel on Bobby hah Hah go AUS, we rule on our exercise balls (you know, the big blue ones). Bobby woulda gotten the poor sport beat down, the fine, the excuse to further use everything to dilute and own the AUS Tour.

    PS hood point above there you statMFtician my daughter coulda made the back door 8.8 that was a 6.0. Compared to Dorians shoulda been a 10 and Slater’s Bombs ???

    Hope Slater owns this year and makes a New World Tour. I mean why not start at guaranteed Pipe in February instead of Snapper Rivermouth as its been many events and if someone flips em off okay but don’t play Prince Cooley and Pauper Bobby (by hypothetical but you know they would) idicrmi discrimi discrimi, sorry, lotta syllables for a surfer, discrimination