The Coolangatta Kids

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There’s a strange happening going on in a small town on the Gold Coast of Australia. Coolangatta’s been quietly producing an army of the most rippingest group of guys ever to come from the same area. Known as the Coolingatta Kids, these young Aussie upstarts have been charging the ranks of pro surfing with a beast-like tenacity. Three of the Coolingatta Kids have punched through the super-grom label and rose from obscurity into the spotlight of the surfing world.

Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, and Dave Rastovich are three guys who’ve not only proven themselves on a local level, but have affected the world by showing the rest of us what the future of surfing is.

TransWorld SURF strategically intercepted these three future world-tour demolitionists on their home turf in Coolangatta on the infamous Gold Coast of Australia. Here’s what they had to say:

Name: Joel Parkinson
Age: 18
Hometown: Coolangatta, Queensland, Australia
Sponsors: Billabong, Oakley, Dahlberg surfboards

TransWorld SURF: So Joel, how long have you lived on Kirra?

Joel Parkinson:About four or five years, since I was like thirteen.

TransWorld SURF: Are you surfing all the time when you’re at home? Or is there other stuff you do when you’re here?

Joel Parkinson:Well, I always surf when I’m here. But lately I’ve been doing other stuff, you know — just cruising, trying to find other things do.

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TransWorld SURF: Is it hard to maintain a social life at home since you’re gone so much?

Joel Parkinson:It’s sorta all the same to me.

TransWorld SURF: How’s fame treated you?

Joel Parkinson:I’m not famous.

TransWorld SURF: What about when you drive around and see your picture on every bus stop and billboard in Austrailia?

Joel Parkinson:It’s funny because I drive the same school route every day, and all these bus stops are the ones we used to sit at. Back then it would’ve been like, “Wow! Amazing!” Now it’s sort of like a part of what I’m doing, so I just kind of take it as it comes.

TransWorld SURF: Is it easy for you to win contests?

Joel Parkinson:No way, not at all. It’s never easy to win. You just have to be in the right frame of mind, and I’ve been lucky to have been in the right frame of mind in a few of the last contests. I’m starting to find it easier to get in that frame of mind.

TransWorld SURF: What’s the difference between the Pro Juniors and the big WCT events?

Joel Parkinson:Well, nothing at all. It’s just a contest — that’s how I look at it. Some are a bit more prestigious than others. Whether it’s a pro-am or a pro whatever, or even just a club contest, I try to surf just as good in either one.

TransWorld SURF: The young Aussies are blowing up right now. What’s the story?

Joel Parkinson:It’s just the group who’s coming through is really good — we’ll have a good group and then the Americans will have a good group. Next will be the Africans or the Brazilians, you know. They’ll just get a little group together and push each other.

TransWorld SURF: Who would you consider your group right now?

Joel Parkinson:It’s not really my group, it’s just a bunch of friends like Mick Fanning, Zane Harrison, Dean Morrison, Rasta David Rastovich, guys like that. There’re a lot of guys who are considered really good.

TransWorld SURF: Which do you like more, doing contests or photo stuff?

Joel Parkinson:Depending on what frame of mind I’m in — probably photo stuff, because I don’t get to do it as much. If I did photo stuff all the time, I’d probably want to go and do the contest thing. You have to pan it out to make it equal.

TransWorld SURF: What’s your travel schedule like? How many months do you think you’ll be gone?

Joel Parkinson:It seems like a lot. Last weekend was my first weekend at home this year. I’ve been away sce the third of January ’til this last Wednesday or last weekend. I’ve got a while at home and then I go back to America to do the Trestles event.

TransWorld SURF: Was it weird seeing a huge story about you getting mugged in all the newspapers and stuff?

Joel Parkinson:I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Just a perfect example of the media — more gossip than they are factual — what they should be.

TransWorld SURF: After it happened, were your parents just freakin’?

Joel Parkinson:It happened on a Saturday night, right? I rang my dad that night, my mom found out the next day, and then everyone forgot about it. Somehow it got down the grapevine and had come out the next Friday — it was sort of a hoax.

TransWorld SURF: Anticlimactic, huh?

Joel Parkinson:I totally had forgotten about it. Then I rang home and it was like, “This is coming out on the front page,” and all this — what are they thinking?

TransWorld SURF: Any other notable adventures you’ve had recently on your travels?

Joel Parkinson:I had a good motorbike stack when I went to the Caribbean. We were trying these jumps and Ross stacked, Rasta stacked, and Benji stacked, but I think mine was a bit worse. I had to pay 500 bucks to get the bike fixed.

TransWorld SURF: Tell me a little bit about this new Billabong project they’re doing with Mouse and everybody. What’s it gonna be like?

Joel Parkinson:I can’t really say, it’s just gonna be a movie — a really good movie with good surfers.

TransWorld SURF: Do you have any specific people you watch for inspiration before you surf?

Joel Parkinson:I don’t know. I think Matt Hoy’s got a really good attitude. His attitude is just so, you know, about himself. Exactly what he wants, he gets, and what he doesn’t want, he doesn’t get. No one steps in the way. And if you do, he just says, “F — k you.”

TransWorld SURF: Hell yeah. What are the aspects of being a world-famous surfer? Does anything bother you?

Joel Parkinson:I absolutely hate for it to be like Kelly. He’s almost gotten too famous for disliking the media, where you absolutely hate every day you go to do something and you can’t even walk around your hometown. Like, “Oh, I’d love to still be able to walk around my hometown without getting hassled or something.”

TransWorld SURF: Why is surfing so popular in Australia as opposed to America where it’s only coastal?

Joel Parkinson:Because our country is so small, and no one lives in the country — they live on the coast. The inbreds live in the country. If you live in the country, you’re an inbred. If you live on the coast, you surf — that’s about it.

TransWorld SURF: How come a lot of Australian surfers are gearheads?

Joel Parkinson:You mean roadheads? I don’t know.

TransWorld SURF: A lot of people take a lot of pride in their Holdens. Is it a competition between everybody?

Joel Parkinson:The country’s so big in Australia, you do a lot of driving. So when we drive, we like to drive safe, fast, and with a good engine.

TransWorld SURF: What are you rockin’ right now?

Joel Parkinson:Just an old Commodore I bought around few years ago — this old bit of shit. It gets me around, though.

TransWorld SURF: How do you see yourself contributing to surfing?

Joel Parkinson:I don’t really see myself doing too much with contributing to surfing. I’d just like to keep the ocean clean, and that’s all we really have to do. All we do is ride waves — we don’t kill them. We don’t really have to do that much work. We always keep the ocean clean so we can keep surfing, and it doesn’t get anything like California — that’s sort of heavy.

TransWorld SURF: Do you see yourself as a role model? Do you feel like a lot of kids look up to you already?

Joel Parkinson:Ahh, I don’t know. I don’t think so. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I know a lot of kids look up to a lot of the other pros, so I don’t even know if this serves as a podium. Actually, I will wonder.

TransWorld SURF: What are your specific goals for this year?

Joel Parkinson:My specific goal is to try and win everything. My main goal is just to be on the CT this year.

TransWorld SURF: Anything you want the American people to know about yourself?

Joel Parkinson: Really, am I the only kid to ever get robbed in Encinitas, California?

TransWorld SURF: I swear, you’re the only kid to ever get robbed in Encinitas, so it’s kind of a dubious honor.

TransWorld SURF: Do you feel pressure on yourself?

Joel Parkinson:There’s no pressure at all.

TransWorld SURF: It’s just surfing.

Joel Parkinson:It is totally. We don’t even have a crowd to be looking over the top of us. Maybe there’s a crowd on the beach — you don’t even have to look to the beach. Tennis players feel pressure and stuff like that, but in surfing you don’t feel pressure. You wouldn’t even know if you were surfing just out here, right now — there would be no one around. So, whether there’s a shirt on and you’re in a heat — it doesn’t matter.

Name:Mick Fanning
Age: 18
Hometown: Coolangatta, Queensland, Australia
Sponsors: Rip Curl, Dragon, Reef, OAM, DHD surfboards

TransWorld SURF: How has your life changed in the last two years?

Mick Fanning:I don’t get to see that much of home anymore. It’s more fun traveling and meeting new people — it’s still pretty cool.

TransWorld SURF: Is surfing work for you?

Mick Fanning:Not really. I just go out and have fun. I don’t stress over it.

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TransWorld SURF: Who do you see as your main competition? Who do you feel you’re coming up with right now?

Mick Fanning:Parko and Dean Morrison — I like surfing against those guys.

TransWorld SURF: What’s up with CK7?

Mick Fanning:It’s just a thing we did. We were gonna make a movie, but nothing ever happened — everyone just started making hats, shirts, and stuff. It’s just a little group thing. Everyone hangs together, and looks after each other.

TransWorld SURF: It’s Coolangatta Kids?

Mick Fanning:Yeah.

TransWorld SURF: That’s the town you all grew up in?

Mick Fanning:Yeah.

TransWorld SURF: What do you think of the surf scene in America as opposed to here?

Mick Fanning:It’s a lot bigger — the surf industry’s so huge over there. I don’t know. I haven’t been there that much.

TransWorld SURF: Do you plan on going to California this summer?

Mick Fanning:Yeah. I’m gonna go there for a little bit, I think.

TransWorld SURF: To cruise around?

Mick Fanning:Yup. Just have some fun.

TransWorld SURF: What’s your mindset before going into a big heat?

Mick Fanning:I just want to do well and surf well. If you get through, it’s good. If you don’t, at least you tried your best.

TransWorld SURF: Overall, what keeps you motivated right now?

Mick Fanning:Just to have fun. I enjoy myself when I’m doing well.

TransWorld SURF: How does it feel to know that there are a lot of people around the world who know your name and have seen you in magazines and stuff?

Mick Fanning:Not that different, I’m just a normal person.

TransWorld SURF: Do people come up and ask for autographs and stuff?

Mick Fanning:Yeah, that’s a bit embarrassing.

TransWorld SURF: What do you think of the current world-tour format?

Mick Fanning:It’s okay. It could be changed for the better. It sort of gets boring, like everyone’s so safe. If they just changed it, so you go out and explode and get judged so high — it should be like that I think.

TransWorld SURF: What do you think of guys who do just airs as opposed to guys who just do a turn?

Mick Fanning:There’re aerial freaks a lot of kids look up to a lot of the other pros, so I don’t even know if this serves as a podium. Actually, I will wonder.

TransWorld SURF: What are your specific goals for this year?

Joel Parkinson:My specific goal is to try and win everything. My main goal is just to be on the CT this year.

TransWorld SURF: Anything you want the American people to know about yourself?

Joel Parkinson: Really, am I the only kid to ever get robbed in Encinitas, California?

TransWorld SURF: I swear, you’re the only kid to ever get robbed in Encinitas, so it’s kind of a dubious honor.

TransWorld SURF: Do you feel pressure on yourself?

Joel Parkinson:There’s no pressure at all.

TransWorld SURF: It’s just surfing.

Joel Parkinson:It is totally. We don’t even have a crowd to be looking over the top of us. Maybe there’s a crowd on the beach — you don’t even have to look to the beach. Tennis players feel pressure and stuff like that, but in surfing you don’t feel pressure. You wouldn’t even know if you were surfing just out here, right now — there would be no one around. So, whether there’s a shirt on and you’re in a heat — it doesn’t matter.

Name:Mick Fanning
Age: 18
Hometown: Coolangatta, Queensland, Australia
Sponsors: Rip Curl, Dragon, Reef, OAM, DHD surfboards

TransWorld SURF: How has your life changed in the last two years?

Mick Fanning:I don’t get to see that much of home anymore. It’s more fun traveling and meeting new people — it’s still pretty cool.

TransWorld SURF: Is surfing work for you?

Mick Fanning:Not really. I just go out and have fun. I don’t stress over it.

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TransWorld SURF: Who do you see as your main competition? Who do you feel you’re coming up with right now?

Mick Fanning:Parko and Dean Morrison — I like surfing against those guys.

TransWorld SURF: What’s up with CK7?

Mick Fanning:It’s just a thing we did. We were gonna make a movie, but nothing ever happened — everyone just started making hats, shirts, and stuff. It’s just a little group thing. Everyone hangs together, and looks after each other.

TransWorld SURF: It’s Coolangatta Kids?

Mick Fanning:Yeah.

TransWorld SURF: That’s the town you all grew up in?

Mick Fanning:Yeah.

TransWorld SURF: What do you think of the surf scene in America as opposed to here?

Mick Fanning:It’s a lot bigger — the surf industry’s so huge over there. I don’t know. I haven’t been there that much.

TransWorld SURF: Do you plan on going to California this summer?

Mick Fanning:Yeah. I’m gonna go there for a little bit, I think.

TransWorld SURF: To cruise around?

Mick Fanning:Yup. Just have some fun.

TransWorld SURF: What’s your mindset before going into a big heat?

Mick Fanning:I just want to do well and surf well. If you get through, it’s good. If you don’t, at least you tried your best.

TransWorld SURF: Overall, what keeps you motivated right now?

Mick Fanning:Just to have fun. I enjoy myself when I’m doing well.

TransWorld SURF: How does it feel to know that there are a lot of people around the world who know your name and have seen you in magazines and stuff?

Mick Fanning:Not that different, I’m just a normal person.

TransWorld SURF: Do people come up and ask for autographs and stuff?

Mick Fanning:Yeah, that’s a bit embarrassing.

TransWorld SURF: What do you think of the current world-tour format?

Mick Fanning:It’s okay. It could be changed for the better. It sort of gets boring, like everyone’s so safe. If they just changed it, so you go out and explode and get judged so high — it should be like that I think.

TransWorld SURF: What do you think of guys who do just airs as opposed to guys who just do a turn?

Mick Fanning:There’re aerial freaks like Rat, I reckon. It’s so hard to do that kind of stuff. People who just do the same turn over and over gets sooo boring. I’d rather watch someone boost a massive air, than just grovel to the beach.

TransWorld SURF: How’s growing up in Australia?

Mick Fanning:Pretty wild, especially up here Coolangatta. Around here everyone’s just so close, you know. Everyone surfs real good. Sometimes when you go out, it’s mayhem — it’s crazy.

TransWorld SURF: What waves did you learn to surf on? Point-break waves like Burleigh?

Mick Fanning:Yeah, mainly Snapper Rocks. There I started to learn how to turn and stuff. Snapper is an insane wave, and I’d surf all day, every day.

TransWorld SURF: Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years?

Mick Fanning:Hopefully on the CT. I’ll be stoked if that happens. Just hopefully surfing and still having fun with it.

TransWorld SURF: Why are the Coolangatta kids blowing up so hard?

Mick Fanning:We want to be better than each other.

TransWorld SURF: You’re all kind of the same age?

Mick Fanning:Yeah. We all went to school together for a while, and always surfed together. In the junior contests, we’d always be together. We don’t want to lose against each other. I guess that’s sort of what happened — we pushed each other so hard.

Name: David Rastovich
Age: 20
Hometown: Coolangatta, Queensland, Australia
Sponsors: Billabong, Airwalk, Oakley, Creatures Of Leisure, Phantom

TransWorld SURF: A lot of people think you have a cool name, how do you feel about that?

David Rastovich: Laughing It’s just a name! It’s just something that people call me — it’s nothing really.

TransWorld SURF: Where did you grow up?

David Rastovich: Right here. I used to live about ten minutes north, the same place Munga grew up just near Surfer’s Paradise.

TransWorld SURF: What’s it like?

David Rastovich: It’s just breakbreaks and stuff. I’d come down here and surf the point all the time. Then when I was about thirteen, I moved down here. It’s only five minutes away, but it’s a bit better because you’re right on the point. You can surf the point every day.

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TransWorld SURF: Surfing is huge in Australia. Do you ever feel famous just walking down the street? Do a lot of people recognize you and know who you are?

David Rastovich: No, I never feel like that. It’s cool living here, though. Because as you said — surfing’s huge. Everyone comes down to the beach, and I know a lot of people because I’ve grown up here. You get a few people coming up and you don’t who they are, but it’s cool. Everyone’s really mellow here — nobody puts you on a higher pedestal than themselves. Everyone’s down-to-Earth, if you start acting a bit ego-driven then you get slapped. I love this country for that! It’s just so humbling, which is cool.

TransWorld SURF: Where else have you been in the world lately that’s caught your eye?

David Rastovich: Myself and Joel just got back from the Caribbean about a month ago. We went to the French West Indies, which was a new trip. That was pretty cool, it was just a real eye-opener to see how a really beautiful place can be trashed by the wealthy American super-celebrities. There’re these huge mansions on these hills, and it just looks out of place. All this money in a naturally beautiful place. It was good, though. A good eye-opener.

TransWorld SURF: What’s coming up next on your travel schedule?

David Rastovich: I never really know, actually. It’s funny the way Billabong works. We find out, and then we’re off in a couple of days for surf trips. Other than that, I go to the standard WQS contests and trips coming up.

I’m also looking to spend some time here — I’m doing some training. I’m getting into a pretty heavy training schedule. I’m doing the Molokai to O’ahu paddle race at t