John Florence: The New Pipe King
Pipeline is and always will be, surfing’s most important wave. Its killed more people and made more stars than any other. It’s surfing’s most traditional proving ground. For some time now, Jamie O’Brien’s been the guy at Pipe, but now a new prince has risen in the form of John Florence. John (who’s ditched the second ‘John’ in […]
Pipeline is and always will be, surfing’s most important wave. Its killed more people and made more stars than any other. It’s surfing’s most traditional proving ground. For some time now, Jamie O’Brien’s been the guy at Pipe, but now a new prince has risen in the form of John Florence. John (who’s ditched the second ‘John’ in his first name), won the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout at the start of January, then the Volcom Pipeline Pro at the end of the month, beating JOB in both. And he’s only 18. Stab caught up with the young Hawaiian to find out how the new crown fits.
Stab: How does it feel to be the new Mr. Pipeline?
John: My confidence level is so high. Winning two events in a row, I’m so stoked. I don’t think anyone’s called me that yet though, Jamie’s still got a couple of contests on me.
Who is the single best surfer out at Pipe? Probably Jamie. Yep, Jamie!
What’s it like to beat him out there? It’s so crazy to think, ’cause Jamie was ‘the guy’ out there, ever since I was young. I surf with Jamie almost everyday out at Pipe. And being in the finals… then actually winning! I’m still, like, I can’t really believe it. He’s like my older brother. I’ve always treated him like my brother, ever since I was really little. We actually lived in the same house for a bit.
Was there much brotherly-like shit-talking? It was pretty mellow. Just like usual. Just like getting into the surf, the same as the day before. I had a couple of heats with him last year and we kinda messed with each other. Just stuff like, “Well, do you want me to get a good one?” and I’d be like, “Yeeeah, Ok.” We were trying to egg each other on, f’sure.
That left drop (pictured above) was very late. Was that a tactical move to add more drama and get a higher score? I was tired coming off my second right. I paddled over Jamie’s wave and I knew I had to get back out, I knew I needed a couple more waves after Jamie’s wave. I ended up being in that spot, like, coming underneath it. I paddled as fast as I could and I paddled as hard as I could.
The world’s at your feet – which career-path are you taking? Dream Tour? Free-surfer? Pipe Master? I want to do the Tour, for sure. My goal is to qualify and get on tour. I’m going to get on the ‘QS, then try and qualify (for the Dream Tour) whenever I can. As soon as I can.
The Hawaiian lineage is rich… who d’ya most wanna be like – Andy Irons, Bruce Irons or Jaime O’Brien? Andy, for sure. Andy was ‘the guy’, you know? It’s sad… but legends never die. Yeah, I want to do it all, win world titles, and… he’s the only guy to have given it to Kelly (Slater). I don’t think I’m as competitive as Andy was but I hope to be some day. I hope to be able to do some of the things that he did. – Simon Nicholas
Below are the highlights from the Volcom Pipe Pro. Kid looks comfortable, huh?
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