We recently re-stumbled across this clip from earlier this year featuring John John Florence pulling off a whole range of mind boggling airs in Aus. It feels particularly relevant to re-visit right now, as Trestles gears up to start, with John John going into the event wearing the yellow jersey, with a win at this comp putting him in solid contention for a world title this year.
Unfortunately due to a knee injury suffered at Teahupoo, it doesn’t look like John will be throwing down anything similar to what you see in this clip: “(The injury) feels fine… It’s just a matter of finding, like, where the little tweaks are and what’s going to hurt it” the world number one told a press conference yesterday. “I think for the event, you know, I’m not going top be able to surf 100 per cent for sure… it’s a torn ligament in my knee… it’s going to be finding a good balance and surfing at eighty-five percent and … hopefully surfing through a couple of heats. It’s either doing that or pulling out of the event completely. I’d rather give it a try and surf like Mick to the finals.”
In an interview we did with JJF last year we spoke at length about the judging and how certain surfers on tour, including Mick, can put a safe wave together to get the score when they need it. John John also told us how often people suggested he surf at 80% in order to get the score he needed, but how it wasn’t something he was keen to try out. “You get paid all this money, you travel to all this different places, you win a world title, you’re the best surfer in the world- you shouldn’t be going out in a heat and learning to surf 80%”. (You can read the interview in full here)
However there are undoubtedly some surfers on tour, who have the ability to surf just as explosively as JJF, who have learnt to tone down the flarey elements of their surfing and fall back onto solid turns when they need to. Indeed it was seemingly this revelation that lead to Medina securing his world title in 2014, where it was solid back hand turn combo’s, rather than airs, that repeatedly saw him to victory in rippable waves.
So perhaps if John John does well in the comp, surfing at 85% (‘like Mick’) it will be a turning point in his competitive career, he’ll stop trying airs, and focus on solid turns, safety lip line floats to finish, the odd fins free reo, but none of what you see in the clip above. He’ll fall less, and throw down 6.5 and 7’s whenever he needs them, and most likely find his way to the world title podium. However in doing so he will have contributed to the dumbing down of competitive surfing. What you see in heats will float further away from what you see in free surf edits and the competitions, particularly on days when the waves aren’t pumping, will lose a little bit of their excitement. So we think we speak for everyone when we say we hope that doesn’t happen.
You can tune in here at half 3 this afternoon to watch all the action live.