John Florence Wins The 2017 Drug Aware Pro
The yellow jersey swaps hands on a sharky day at Main Break.
After almost a week long waiting period, finals day at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro went down today in solid, clean and somewhat inconsistent Main Break conditions. And despite everyone’s best efforts, it was all John John Florence, who averaged a nine or better on scoring rides throughout the day; resulting in four 19 plus heat scores for the Hawaiian. But, before we continue analysing the new world number one’s ascendancy, let’s dive into the action freshly in the rearview.
The quarterfinals kicked off between Jack Freestone and Owen Wright. It was a quiet heat altogether, though, as sets failed to roll through. What did manage to stutter by was lacking puissance, and mushy altogether. Some manageable waves started permeating with six minutes to go in the heat, thankfully, and Owen and Jack traded off individual pieces of a set. Jack’s display was more lucrative than Owen’s, grabbing a 6.50 and 4.00 for a total 10.50, helping him win by five points as Owen only managed a 5.50. The lanky goofy-footer looked particularly troubled as he spun out off the initial bottom turn on his second wave of the heat on account of a lost starboard fin. A larger consequence of Owen apparently being known to not use screws on his fins. A unique tactic, with equally particular repercussions. Regardless, Owen’s equipment malfunction cost him, and the now-former golden jersey wearer bowed out.
“It feels good,” said Jack after the win. “It got really inconsistent right after the free surf this morning, and once the event kicked off it just went flat. I didn’t feel like there was that much opportunity at all except at the end of the heat when things started pulsing. But a win’s a win.”
John John rolled into an impressive set off the bell in the following heat against Michel Bourez, resulting in a 9.27. The consequence of barrel, to wrap around, to finishing snap. John continued fusillading scores, tacking on an additional 8.77, which surpassed Michel’s 15.77 with a combined 18.04.
“I got really lucky getting on that first one right off the horn,” reflected John. “I got a few fun ones after that, but that was a really good one. I love this wave, it’s so fun and you go so fast and can draw a good line out there.”
In a taste of Brazil, Adriano de Souza and Filipe Toledo paddled out for heat three following. And although Filipe looked relatively lost in the bigger conditions, he managed to scrape by Adriano with a combined 12.83, superior to Adriano’s 10.33. Kolohe Andino and Jordy Smith made their way to the lineup afterwards, and it was Kolohe who went on a tear, grabbing a 9.17 and 9.60, for a total 18.77 as more waves started rolling through. Unfortunately for the South African, an 8.33 and 8.53, for a combined 16.86, wasn’t enough.
John continued flexing his dominance in the semis, dropping two impressive scores, with a 9.37 and 9.90. His combined 19.27 iced his opponent, Jack Freestone, who was only able to scrape together a 10.57 from a 4.67 and 5.90.
The following semi saw some unique dramatics, as Kolohe Andino and Filipe Toledo evacuated the water around eight minutes in on account of sharks cruising in close proximity.
“Neither one of us could surf after that,” said Kolohe after the heat went on hold. “I paddled over to Strider and said, ‘There are sharks over here!’ We were just sitting out there with no idea what to do, I was sitting by myself. I couldn’t even think.”
Thanks to the jet skis being equipped with Shark Shields technology, an electronic device that creates an electromagnetic field to deter the unwelcome locals, the lineup eventually cleared. Kolohe would go on to win after paddling back out with a 15.63, derived from a 7.83 and 7.80, trouncing Filipe’s 15.00 heat total.
The final went down between John John and fellow Hurley team rider, Kolohe Andino. As aforementioned, Mr Florence was on another tier; doing higher quality turns, in quantity, on more critical sections. Probably thanks to the fact that, as mentioned by Ronnie Blakey on the webcast, Main Break’s conditions mirrored the Hawaiian’s front yard locale, Pupukea today. Or, because John John is, well, John John.
That’s not to say Kolohe didn’t put up a fight, as he carved his away around and spun his way above the lineup as well. But it takes more than a good effort to tackle a clicking Florence, whose first wave was a 9.63, followed by a 7.50, then finished off with a 9.40 for an almost perfect 19.03 total.
“I’m so stoked right now,” John said afterwards. “The wind stayed clean and the waves were so fun out there. I love surfing this break and just going fast and doing big turns.”
When asked how it feels to be back on top of the rankings, John remarked: “Can’t think too much about that, I just want to go to Bells with confidence and focus. Hopefully we get some fun waves down there, and I can’t wait to get into it.”
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