“Won my first title in Brazil. JJ wins his 1st event on tour there 20yrs later. Pretty cool for me. Known him since he was about 6yo”
– Kelly Slater on Twitter, shortly after midnight yesterday.
The ‘JJ’ Kelly refers to is John John Florence, who won his first World Tour event just a few minutes before Kelly posted that tweet.
John John, for those who came in late, is – and excuse the hyperbole – the sort of surfer you’d want representing Earth if aliens came to our planet and demanded a surf contest to save humanity.
Why? John John (technically just John, but everyone knows him as having a repeated first name) grew up on the north shore of Oahu, a minute’s walk to some of the world’s best warm water surf. He started surfing at three and was on the cover of the world’s biggest surfing magazine before he was 10.
As veteran surf journo Nick Carroll pointed out, at that age he’d caught more waves than most surfers do in their whole lives, which would explain why he’ll happily launch ridiculous airs in high stakes heats. Unlike most surfers, he knows he’s going to stick them.
What sort of ridiculous airs? How about his backside 540 in the clip below, for starters. It’d be a crazy air in a freesurf, but bear in mind this was his first wave in the FINAL OF A WORLD TOUR CONTEST, against none other than Joel Parkinson. Which brings us to another point – it’s not like he fluked his way into the final. John John took down some of the best surfers in the world en-route to that final berth, and although Kelly Slater was out of the contest nursing an injured heel, young Two Johns wouldn’t have been too bothered by his presence.
Last year he beat the world’s best at home in pumping Pipeline barrels, but now he’s taken his act to the global stage – and bear in mind this is his first year on tour – he could be unstoppable.
As an aside, how good is the Top 10 looking after this contest?
BILLABONG RIO PRO FINAL:
1 – John John Florence (HAW) 16.37
2 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.44
BILLABONG RIO PRO SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.83 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.00
SF 2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.94 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.86
BILLABONG RIO PRO QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.90 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.60
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.57 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 5.90
QF 3: John John Florence (HAW) 14.94 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.43
QF 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.84 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.27
Current ASP WCT Top 10 (After Billabong Rio Pro):
1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 19700 pts
2. Mick Fanning (AUS) 18250 pts
3. Josh Kerr (AUS) 18200 pts
4. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17200 pts
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15750 pts
6. John John Florence (HAW) 15750 pts
7. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15700 pts
8. Kelly Slater (USA) 13700 pts
9. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12250 pts
10. Owen Wright (AUS) 12150 pts