At the end of days it's about the journey. It's about the road traveled. Like surfing, it's about the ride.
Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson have known one another since they were but wee sand fleas hopping around Snapper Rocks and Rainbow Bay.
Surfing brought them together, and now it's what drives the relationship. The "Coolie Kids," as they were dubbed when they busted onto the scene around 2000, Fanning and Parkinson, who are the subject of the new series '21Days' on Red Bull Surfing, have matured into two of the best surfers in the world, and after 20 years of surfing against one another they are both ASP World Champions.
Fanning's first title arrived in 2007. Dedicating himself wholly to the cause, he singularly focused that year to be the best, to beat everybody. "I put everything into it," says Fanning. "By the end of the year I was mentally and physically spent.”
After resharpening his competitive edge, Fanning next won the title in 2009.
And while Fanning's path has been fraught with challenges, Parkinson has proven to be the journeyman of the duo. In 12 years on tour he's finished runner-up to the title four times, making him the perennial bridesmaid. But in 2012 he broke through -- 2012 was Parko's year.
"I don't know how I would have reacted if I'd lost another one," ponders the newly-minted world champ. "That was the instant emotion. I just didn't know what would have happened if I'd lost it."
But as the sporting adage goes, "You're only as good as your last win." The 2013 season-opening Quiksilver Pro Australia is looming. The waiting period begins March 2. Australia spent the past offseason toasting and celebrating the most recent accomplishment of one of their native surfing sons, but Parkinson knows better.
"Everything's been feeling good. The body's feeling good. The boards are feeling good... It's time to wake up the dragon."
"It's easy to get distracted by all of it," he says. "But Snapper's coming up quick and it's time to get ready."
For Fanning's part, he's spent the downtime surfing, surfing, and surfing some more. "I've never seen him this prepared." says coach Andy King.
Fanning adds, "Everything's been feeling good. The body's feeling good. The boards are feeling good."
There are three weeks until go-time on the Gold Coast, and Fanning and Parkinson are acutely aware of what's on the line.
"It's time to wake up the dragon," says Fanning.
'21Days' premieres on Red Bull Surfing today. The series will follow the surfers ahead of five selected events on the ASP World Tour. Check back at RedBull.com/Surfing for more info. And follow Red Bull on Twitter for more updates.