Blake Kueny, who for most of the year you might call John Florence’s personal filmer, just got back from Tahiti. He was there for two days, a real snatch-and-grab run, to document John and his bros, Ivan and Nathan, as well as some other Hawaiian pals (Koa Rothman and Eli Olson), burying themselves in a big swell hit that travelled from Fiji last friday. How big? Depends where you’re from.
“I don’t know, I’m from California!” laughs Blake. “It was big to me. I mean, (John, etc) would say solid six-to-eight feet, but I’d probably say eight-to-10 feet.” No-one likes calling wave size, ever, so you can judge for yourself by the photo above. But one thing’s for sure – the whole Florence gang blossoms in big barrels. It ain’t just John.
“Nathan fricken cooked this trip, f’sure,” says Blake. “He had some nuts ones. I mean, John always rips. He was getting sick ones, of course. But Nathan really broke out on this one.” But, with alpha-male John (oldest bro, soon-to-be-world-champ-probably, etc) in the mix, is there a pecking order? “I don’t think anyone feels like that. They’re all having a good time, doing their different things. There’s no weirdness or anything. John’s 19, Nathan’s 18 and Ivan’s 16. There’s that whole, ‘I want a bigger one than you’ thing, of course. but it’s just natural, just brothers. It’s the coolest thing to see, ever.”
While youngest bro Ivan is a goofyfooter and obviously has his own game, John and Nathan share a Florence technique on their backhand. “They were taking off and letting go of their rails and standing in the big barrels. They all ride super small boards, they ride 6’1″ or 6’2″s. So they take off right under the lip and fall with the lip. Then they grab the rail, set their line and stand up straight. Ivan’s goofy, so he’s a bit different, but Nathan and John both have the same idea of taking off with the lip.”
So, they sit a little further in if they’re on shorter boards, surely? “Actually, they kinda sit further out than everyone, but they start paddling early and really hard for them. So committed. They also sit more west than everyone else ’cause they want those west ones. They’re the ones that come sideways at it. They’re those crazy, slabby, square ones, from the other direction, and they look like they’re gonna close out the channel but then they just open up.”
The footage, from which these screengrabs were plucked, might show up a little later in the year, or something (ooh, mystery!). Until then, speculate and wonder at how good three related teenagers from the North Shore are at dominating man-sized barrels. – Elliot Struck