Stab Magazine | John John Florence can win the world title this year: All the scenarios!
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John John Florence can win the world title this year: All the scenarios!

Story by Lucas Townsend The Moche/Rip Curl Pro, Portugal begins this weekend and there are seven surfers in mathematical contention for the world title, but performance-wise and given the last two events, John John Florence is the biggest threat to current frontrunner, Gabriel Medina. John’s found his feet in the past three events; he won France, […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Story by Lucas Townsend

The Moche/Rip Curl Pro, Portugal begins this weekend and there are seven surfers in mathematical contention for the world title, but performance-wise and given the last two events, John John Florence is the biggest threat to current frontrunner, Gabriel Medina. John’s found his feet in the past three events; he won France, finished second at Lowers and third in Tahiti. No surfer is in better form. His wave selection is back on-point, he’s choosing combos rather than single manoeuvres, he’s the best in dumpy beachbreaks like Supertubos, and Kelly Slater’s the only one who can surf Pipe as well as he can.

Gabriel will still wear the yellow jersey in Portugal but a maiden world title is not as secure as many first thought. Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, John John Florence, Taj Burrow and Michel Bourez are all mathematical possibilities. And considering the beachbreaks of Supertubos are as unpredictable as France, anyone of the following scenarios could play out.

If Gabriel finishes 25th or 13th in Portugal, Joel and John John will need a second, Mick; fifth and Kelly; 25th to send the title race to Pipe.

Joel Parkinson has already accepted defeat: “I guess now I don’t have to think about a world title,” he said after he lost in round three in France. “It’s a bummer, you know, but Gabriel was really far in front. He’s over 50,000 points now and at that busy end of the year it’s really hard for us to catch him. So many things would have to go right for Kelly or Mick to catch him. I guess the pressure’s off.”

Mick Fanning’s long-held theory on world title wins is they begin halfway through the year before. And, Mick has always won his titles with strong mid to back-end of the year finishes. John John’s now on the same program: “I’ve spoken to a lot of guys about the title and they all say that the title campaign actually starts the year before. I’m hoping for a few more good results this season to really make a run for it in 2015.” If Gabriel finishes ninth, Joel and John John will need a first, Mick a second and Kelly a third. But after his champagne moment in France, John John could replicate the result in Portugal and accidentally surf for a title a year earlier at home on December 8. “I guess the win in France puts me in contention for this year, but Gabriel is so far ahead that some weird stuff would have to happen.”

John_John_Florence_Could_Win_Setup

Not something you wanna see if you’re Jadson in this moment, in a final. John dominates the punchy sand-bottoms, and Portugal could be firmly within that end of town. Photo: ASP/ Damien Poullenot/ Aquashot

“Weird stuff” would mean Gabs losing early and John would probably need to win the next two events but, let’s be honest, most other surfers are looking fatigued compared to John (and perhaps, Jordy). Along with Kelly, he’s certainly the best surfer at Pipe, and Supertubos suits him perfectly. It’s not out of the question.

However, if Gabriel makes the quarters in Portugal, Joel and John John will be out of the race, and Mick and Kelly will need a first. After Mick enjoyed his front row seat to John’s masterclass in round five (with yet another 19.9o heat total, mind you) he spoke to ASP commentator and his media manager, Ronnie Blakey bedazzled and honest: “Form-wise I’m feeling good. I felt like I improved a bit this event. But it’s not about feeling great and performing well, you’ve got to be in rhythm. When you’re going for a world title so many things have to fall your way; a wave in the dying seconds, sometimes it can be a score that goes your way, or it goes flat and you make something out of nothing. For me now, it’s all-out fun and I’ll go into these last two events and give them my all, as I always do, and try and enjoy it.”

A top three finish for Gabby in Portugal and Mick and Kelly will need a first. If Gabriel finishes second, Mick will be out of the race, Kelly will need a first. Interestingly, this is Kelly’s 21st year on tour and 2004 was the only year he didn’t win at least one event: “I’ve had one of those years, and I’m just trying to understand it,” said Kelly after he lost in the quarters and spent quite some time in the water digesting the loss. “It’s funny, I’m second, but I feel like I’ve struggled to find a real consistency throughout any event this year.”

“I’m not (out of it). (France) was a huge opportunity, that happens when you’re on top of it and you’ve got it, but I haven’t felt like that. A lot of times I go on feel, and I go, okay, there it is, it’s locked in, my confidence builds right then, I can feel something, a switch goes at a certain time during the event, or the year. Gabby has left it out there at the last couple of contests to let me catch up, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to make my friends happy.”

But, if Gabriel wins the Portugal event he will win the world title in Europe. Is he excited? “As I always say, it’s heat by heat, I’m just trying to surf good… even if I lose.” Nailed it, Gabby.

 

The numbers:

– If Gabriel finishes 25th or 13th in Portugal, Joel and John John will need a 2nd, Mick; 5th and Kelly; 25th to send the title race to Pipe.

– If Gabriel finishes 9th, Joel and John John will need a 1st, Mick a 2nd, Kelly a 3rd.

– If Gabriel makes the quarters, Joel and John John will be out of the race, Mick and Kelly will need a 1st.

– A third place finish for Gabby, and Mick and Kelly will need a 1st. If Gabriel finishes 2nd, Mick will be out of the race, Kelly will need a 1st.

– But, if Gabriel finishes 1st, he will win the world title in Portugal.

– Taj and Michel are still mathematical chances but so far from the hitting range it’s not worth reporting.

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