Stab Podcast: How To Beat John John In The Vans Triple Crown - Stab Mag
John Florence, safe for now. Photo: Laswerwolf

Stab Podcast: How To Beat John John In The Vans Triple Crown

This might get uncomfortable.

Words by Michael Ciaramella

John Florence has won four Vans Triple Crowns throughout his career.

The first three were “traditional” Triple Crowns, meaning he accrued more points than any other surfer across the three WSL events at Haleiwa, Sunset, and Pipeline in these given years. The last one was a “modern” Triple Crown, meaning that John submitted the best clips of any surfer from Haleiwa, Sunset, and Pipe last winter.

It’s been argued in previous episodes of The Drop that this new format will result in John winning the next 20 Triple Crowns, as his performance level at each of the venues is so dominant, that when given a full month to get his best waves, no one else will come close. The fact that he had the highest scoring rides at each of the venues last season adds some credence to this logic.

But there is one man — one strong, steely-eyed man — who’s proven himself capable of rattling the cool, calm, and collected Florence. And no, it’s not Gabriel Medina.

It’s Zeke Lau. The 27-year-old Hawaiian, former and future CT competitor, and Ultimate Surfer, once put John in a figurative headlock at the 2018 Bells event. With encouragement from his coach and infamous hassler (in his day), Jake ‘Snake’ Paterson, Zeke sat on John like he had an asphyxiation kink, at some points being in shoulder-to-shoulder contact, and other times paddling directly toward the 2x World Champion’s surfboard.

…And it worked.

John, a clearly superior surfer in the conditions, fell in crucial moments, demonstrating just how rattled he was by Zeke’s antics. This was one of the most interesting heats in the past decade of competitive surfing, and more importantly, it provides a certain window of opportunity for Triple Crown aspirants.

What if you just sat on John John…for the whole month of the Triple Crown window?

You’d need a proper game plan and probably a team of spotters in place. One at John’s front door, to see if he’s loading the car with boards, and one on the beach behind his house to see if he’s paddling out near home. Walkie-talkies would also be a must, as the cell service is terrible on that part of the island.

From there, you’d need a car and electric bike ready, so that you could get from Sunset to Pipe in no more than five minutes, and Haleiwa in 20 (depending on traffic).

Then comes the hard part — actually sitting on John John. Not only do you have to deal with endless embarrassment and guilt, but you also need to have the physical strength to keep up with one of the best paddlers on tour…and his brothers and friends, who will probably want to kick your ass.

Even if you somehow manage all of that without getting a proper North Shore beatdown, you’d also need to go on some really scary waves. John doesn’t like the little ones.

So, uhhhh…good luck with that.

BONUS: Self-proclaimed Walmart of surf photography, Ryan Miller, also joined us on this week’s episode to discuss his years entrenched on the tour, hot investment tips (#1: pick a good wife), and why work ethic trumps all.

Here are some timecodes for some of the other topics from this week’s podcast, for the impatient types:
– The big wave tour is back! …Kinda (2:30)
– Peter Mel’s film is premiering next week (9:10)
– How Zeke Lau will beat John Florence once and for all (10:30)
– How to build a surf camp (17:50)
– Why’d an Australian artist burn $30K worth of art? (23:15)
– Stab Highway has taken a turn for the urban (29:00)
– Volcano ruins surf spot (33:00)
– This week’s surf sin (35:00)
– Ryan Miller offers career advice (42:00)


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