Joel was a sponsored skateboarder and surfer in his early teens. He turned professional surfer at 14 and won his first pro ASP competition at age 15, making him the youngest competitor to win an ASP event. He rode both modern short surfboards and longboard, but longboards is what he is most recognized for. He is considered one of the greatest all time nose-riders. He regularly competed in the longboard world championships, winning his first world title in 1998. He won the U.S. Open of longboarding a record 8 times.
Joel is most closely associated with heavily glassed, single-fin longboards typical of the 1960s which help define his smooth and flowing style.