Stab Surfer Of The Year: John Florence, Nathan Florence, Jeremy Flores, Wade Goodall, And Ace Buchan
Which surfer inspired John Florence most in 2018?
The Stab Surfer of the Year is humming right along and what are your thoughts?
Is it enjoyable to read about your favorite surfers’ favorite surfers? Are you intrigued by the marked differences in each individual account? Is anyone curious if Slater will put himself on his own list?
While you won’t find that out today, you will hear from Slater’s adopted sons John and Nate Florence, Australia’s steel-legged punter Wade Goodall, France’s fiercest honey badger Jeremy Flores, and the evenly keeled Ace Buchan.
Before we jump ahead, let’s look back at the Stab Surfer of the Year’s Day 3 leaderboard:
Males (Top 12):
1. Gabriel Medina (27 points)
2. Chippa Wilson (21 points)
=3. Julian Wilson (20 points)
=3. Noa Deane (20 points)
5. Filipe Toledo (15 points)
=6. Dane Reynolds (12 points)
=6. Italo Ferreira (12 points)
8. Griffin Colapinto (10 points)
=9. Seth Moniz (9 points)
=9. Nate Florence (9 points)
=11. Grant Twiggy Baker (7 points)
=11. Billy Kemper (7 points)
Females (Top 6):
1. Steph Gilmore (7 points)
=2. Caroline Marks (2 points)
=2. Bethany Hamilton (2 points)
=2. Keala Kennelly (2 points)
=5. Carissa Moore (1 point)
=5. Courtney Conlogue (1 point)
And now, onwards!
Bio: 2x Pipe Master/Teahupo’o winner, hails from the sharkiest place on earth, distrusts surf judges
Mason Ho (5 points): – “I love Mason as a free surfer. He’s good at everything from airs to big waves to barrel-riding. I also just love his happy-go-lucky attitude. To me, Mason is the definition of surfing.”
Mick Fanning (4 points): “The way Mick draws his lines and drives through the water is incredible. For me, it puts him above even guys like Toledo. I don’t really care if Mick’s on tour on not [Mick retired in 2018]. The past few months he’s been putting a few clips out and they’re amazing.”
Filipe Toledo (3 points): “Toledo is the best air guy. He’s an animal. He can put out a clip in like two sessions. All the free surfers take so long to make them.”
Griffin Colapinto (2 points): “During events Griffin gets so many clips that he’s basically filming a movie. He just paddles out and does crazy shit. It’ so fun to watch.”
Ethan Ewing (1 point): “Ethan’s surfing reminds me a lot of Andy Irons – the arms, the lines he draws, everything. He’s such a great young talent, I can’t wait to see him get back on Tour and show people his true ability.” [Ethan was a CT rookie in 2017 but fell off due to mediocre placings. He missed requalification in 2018 by one spot.]
Steph Gilmore (1 point): “I picked Steph for just her style, her grace, and her attitude. She’s the raddest chick and despite how good she is at surfing, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s just this amazing human and from a technical standpoint she’s the best.”
John John Florence: “Obviously, John’s a no brainer. He’s good in everything. The guy spent six months out of the water and just paddled out and pulled into big barrels.”
John John Florence
Bio: 2x World Champion, highest paid surfer of all time, has been injured half the year
Quote: “I think big waves pushed surfing more than the tour did in 2018.”
Filipe Toledo (5 points): “In the beginning of the year he was competing so well and that kinda evoked an emotional response in me. He was ripping at J-Bay, he had that big air in Brazil… The way Filipe pushes surfing when he’s competing is something I’d like to emulate. He doesn’t hold back and always goes so fast and I really admire that about him.”
Nate Florence (4 points): “At the beginning of the year, Nate said to himself, “I’m going to chase this swell and get the biggest, craziest wave wherever I’m going.” He did that every single swell – Tahiti, Nias, Puerto, etc. – which is not easy to do. It’s totally taxing on you… kinda like competing in its own way. You have to make sure you’re prepared with everything. Your stress levels go up so high the day before the swell, and when you’re out there you’re thinking, ‘This is the one I’ve been thinking about, this is the one I have to go on.’ I think this is pretty unbiased – Nate pushed big wave surfing a lot in 2018.”
Kai Lenny (3 points): “Regardless of what board Kai is riding, he’s doing it pretty damn well. He was surfing Jaws on a tow board like it was a six foot wave. I mean it’s towing, I get it, but I can never imagine trying a turn like that on such a big wave, and then the 15-foot air-drop was just crazy!” [See below.]
Lucas Chumbo (2 points): He’s really pushing big wave surfing. He’s got no fear. He’s going out and trying to surf these mountains like small waves. Every time he’s in a heat I’m thinking, ‘Oh gosh, he’s gonna pull in or try a turn or an air or something.’”
Gabriel Medina (1 point): “Medina is just an inspirational competitive surfer. You watch the guy in any heat and he’s so solid and so consistent. He’s one of my biggest rivals but he’s also one of my biggest inspirations when competing. What he did at Pipe was amazing.”
Keala Kennelly (1 point): “Watching Keala sending it at Jaws was so gnarly [Keala won the women’s Jaws events with several harrowing wipeouts]. I was super stoked to see that – I think it’s inspiring for everyone in the surfing world. I also want to mention that Steph and Carissa are pushing the female side of sport significantly. Out of all the surfers in the world – guys or girls – Steph has one of the best styles. And Carissa is up there with one of the most powerful surfers in the world. It’s crazy. She’ll go out and do a turn and your jaw will drop, like, ‘Oh my gosh, she destroyed that thing.’ They’re both just really, really good at surfing.”
Noa Deane: “His one air at North Point was so sick. I don’t spend too much time on Instagram, so someone just showed me it a week ago. They were like, ‘You haven’t seen Noa Deane’s air?’ And I’m like, ‘What air?’ Then they showed me and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ The way he tweaked his knee back – I’m not sure whether he did it on purpose or not, but whatever he did he was trying to land it. It was insane.”
Bio: Surfed every noteworthy swell in 2018, paddled the gnarliest Teahupo’o wave of all time, not just John’s brother
Quote: “Thinking about who I was personally most impacted, influenced, and inspired by in 2018, this is what my list came to!”
- Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (5 points): “Right now Chumbo is one of the most naturally talented and strongest big wave surfers. He’s always pushing the limits. He was on every XXL swell this year, changing how we look at and ride big waves.”
- Grant “Twiggy” Baker (4 points): “Twiggy’s an older generation big wave surfer still pushing the limits of the sport. He’s not just keeping up with the younger heavyweights, he’s challenging them constantly [see below]! Twiggy won Nazare, he caught that wave at Jaws, plus he’s a family man and still manages to find new waves and do strike missions.”
- Billy Kemper (3 points): Billy’s competitive skill in small and big waves is radical [Billy got a perfect 10 at Sunset the day before flying to Maui and winning Jaws for a third time]. His knowledge and ability at Jaws is unbelievable, which is obvious with him taking his third win this year, especially just after recovering from a bad injury.”
- Kai Lenny (2 points): “Kai is really consistent, and had incredible performances on almost every watercraft you can think of in XXL swells this year! Another athlete pushing our sport for the better.”
- Filipe Toledo (5 points): “He was the one guy on tour I was really fired up to watch once my brother got injured [John suffered a severe knee injury less than halfway through the 2018 season]. He’s always exciting and innovating. I’ve never seen such great reflexes or somebody so talented at controlling a surfboard.”
Steph Gilmore (1 point): She just dominates. How the fuck did she not win the Surfer Awards this year?” [In a truly Orwellian twist, ex-CTer Alana Blanchard took number one in the 2018 Surfer Poll, despite the fact Alana’s surf time has been severely limited due newfound to child-rearing responsibilities. Blame it on the in-in-in-in-in-Instagram!]
Bio: CT lynchpin, keen-eyed observer, hasn’t fallen since ‘04.
Gabriel Medina (5 points): “When Gabe gets on a roll he’s nearly unstoppable. He was only beaten twice in the back half of the year – stop and think about that! The surfing he did in that stretch was across so many different conditions too – Chopes, the pool, shifty beaches in Europe and then Pipe. He rises to every occasion and isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty. To me he was the guy who above everyone else put the work in and said this title is mine! Gabe gets a bad rap in the media but he’s a really fun, genuine guy when you get to know him.”
Julian Wilson (4 points): “Jules and I stayed together in Hawaii this year and I was really, really impressed with his whole act. He was calm and confident. He’s dealt with fatherhood really well which isn’t easy, but he has a great team around him and he knows when to prioritise. I think he’s learnt a lot about himself and life this year. From the grit he showed to win that final at Kirra to the phenomenal performance he put on at France, all while travelling with his family for the first time and dealing with the challenges that brings. To me he’s potentially the most well rounded surfer in the world right now.”
Mick Fanning (3 points): Losing Mick from the tour this year was a big deal, especially for the generation of Aussies who grew up following his lead and drafting his act. I’ve learnt so much from Mick and it was testament to his surfing and willpower that he was fighting it out for the Bell in his last ever CT heat. Mick’s obviously dealt with so much adversity and here in Australia he’s a national treasure because he embodies that fighting Australian underdog spirit. We had so many good heats and times together on tour. Gonna miss him.”
Joel Parkinson (2 points): “Joel was the other half of my inspiration. His surfing was so gnarly as a kid – beyond his years in terms of technique and style but everyone seems to forget how well rounded he was too. His airs were gnarly when he wanted to do them. Remember Bicycle, 3-Degrees and Trilogy? He also had this confidence and cockiness that was really endearing. Seeing what he went through to win that Title in 2012 was so inspiring, and to do it with his wife and 3 kids there is the ultimate. He’s been enjoying himself the last couple of years but to see him find that extra gear again and win Haleiwa in his last Triple Crown against kids half his age was a reminder of his class!”
Kai Lenny (1 point): “Kai Lenny excites me to get in the ocean everyday and get out of my comfort zone. He’s a showman and surfing needs that. His performances from paddling and towing Jaws to foiling flat water in NYC are phenomenally skilful and committed. We surfed the contest bank in France before the CT this year, and on a head high right-hander he was surfing so well he looked like he was on tour.”
Lakey Peterson (1 point): “Steph has the girls covered talent-wise, but I thought it was Lakey this year who really lifted her game. I watched her destroy a wave at Greenmount before the year started and had a feeling she was going to have a good year. How she acted around the events was really impressive too.”
Lucas Chumbo and Twiggy: “Chumbo is the at the forefront of high performance surfing in big waves. He’s can do spins to the flats in 3-foot beachies or paddling into 2nd reef Pipe, but I’m stoked he’s found his niche in truly huge surf. Meanwhile Twiggy has to be at the top of the pecking order in the big wave scene. That wave he rode at Jaws to me is the best single wave ever ridden. The skill and commitment to spin and knife a 50-foot cavern like that is mind-bending. Tip of the Akubra to you Twiggy!”
Bio: Spins like a late-90s DJ, loves a rock-laced tube, has broken every bone in each of his legs (twice)
Shaun Manners (5 points): “Those who know Chun know how good he is, but no one else had ever seen it. And for the breakout performance he had in Blastoid, it was a really proud moment for all of his friends. No one had seen that shit but we all knew it was there.”
Noa Deane (4 points): “Noa had a crazy amount of pressure on him this year, but he took pressure that and transformed it into a beautiful diamond with his film Headnoise. Noa’s the embodiment of the surfing I love: staunch slab surfing with big airs.”
Laurie Towner (3 points): “Laurie showed back up in full force this year, showing everyone how good he can still surf. It’s his natural ability over everything. Laurie can be laying tiles one day, then go chase a swell across the world the next and just rule it. That is seriously crazy. I can’t believe it.”
Nathan Fletcher (1 point): “He rips and has the most positive mentality through everything. I was surfing with Nathan this year and his eagerness to get better and try shit at his age is inspiring. The amount of shit I saw him just not make this year is pretty crazy. He’s still trying full rotations to the flats, and that thing he landed the other day is proof [see below]. My legs are pretty busted up and I’m timid at times but he’s an inspiration. ‘Just fucking hit it!’ Nate says.”
Steph Gilmore (1 point): “At the start of the year, Steph reached out to a guy I’ve been filming with and said, ‘What’s Wade doing for this cyclone swell? Are you guys going to get some big waves? If so, I’d like to come.’ We were like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ We went to this secret wave and she got more barrelled than anyone. It was amazing. I hadn’t really surfed with her since we were little. She was on another comfort level which was crazy.” [We’re dying to see these clips.]
Harry Bryant: “Harry’s coming of age and is kind of on a Chippa path – blossoming late and blossoming more and more and more everyday. Haz grew up in Noosa with a circle of friends who didn’t give a shit what anyone thought. Every single one of his crew – coming from a closed minded community – none of ‘em gave a fuck. Whether they were photographers, filmmakers, or surfers, they all wanted to learn things, trying new things, and they all fed off each other. Harry impresses the shit out of me.”
You think Filipe wants a sniff of this odorous rhubarb pie? He’s right on Gabby’s coattails.
Stab Surfer of the Year running total:
Males (Top 12):
1. Gabriel Medina (33 points)
=2. Filipe Toledo (24 points)
=2. Julian Wilson (24 points)
=2. Noa Deane (24 points)
5. Chippa Wilson (23 points)
6. Nate Florence (13 points)
=7. Italo Ferreira (12 points)
=7. Dane Reynolds (12 points)
=7. Griffin Colapinto (12 points)
10. Grant Twiggy Baker (11 points)
=11. Billy Kemper (10 points)
=11. Shaun Manners (10 points)
=11. Mick Fanning (10 points)
=11. Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (10 points)
Females (Top 6):
1. Steph Gilmore (10 points)
2. Keala Kennelly (3 points)
=3. Bethany Hamilton (2 points)
=3. Caroline Marks (2 points)
=5. Carissa Moore (1 point)
=5. Courtney Conlogue (1 point)
=5. Lakey Peterson (1 point)
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