When it rains, it floods and without peer, John Florence is surfing’s most sought-after commodity. He just signed a new, undisclosed multi-year deal with Hurley, meaning that Pat O’Connell will remain his Number One fan through the prime of his career. And while no one in John’s camp is talking specifics, Stab speculates the deal usurps his previous contract and overshadows big-monied ten-year contracts of the surf industry’s more profitable years. “Hurley’s been a huge part of my life, they’ve helped me accomplish what I’ve wanted to accomplish, from movies to contests and all that,” John tells Stab. “They’ve been really supportive, which is the best part. When I said I wanted to make a movie; they told me to go for it. When I wanted to focus on competition, they told me the same. Everything about Hurley is like a family.” Which is easy to say when you’re the golden child, but John’s a good investment. And think, have you ever not clicked on a JJF headline? So after he’d finished View from a Blue Moon, John set his sights on a successful season on tour – a unique segue into the release of John’s final episode of his Twelve series.
The problem with hundreds of web clips drowning the internet is the difficulty to add a narrative. It’s air-rev, blow tail, barrel, roundhouse, slow-mo, full rote and a banging, or ominous soundtrack. But John’s “Twelve” set out to capture a world title run. Instead, they ended up documenting one of the best competitive years for any surfer ever, cue the Eddie, Triple Crown and world title. The notion itself feels like an automatic jinx — like an NFL player making the cover of Madden (17 out of 19 players in the history of the video game have suffered shortened seasons due to injury or otherwise).
But what could be more thrilling than a seat beside the champ’s title run? Throw in some freesurfing and a view into the personality of one of surfing’s most elusive gents and that’s just a winning formula. “When we finished View from a Blue Moon, my main focus turned to the tour,” John tells us. “But filming and everything that goes into it is a passion of mine, and at the beginning of the year my whole team helped come up with the ‘Twelve’ series. I just really enjoy working with cameras and working with Erik [Knutson] (the filmmaker behind VFABM who stays alongside JJF all year). I was like, ‘Oh, let’s just document the tour all year.’ And it ended up working out really well on that side of things,” he laughs. “I’m also a control freak,” he tells us. “I like to have final say on what goes out.”
“This year, for me, was a test for the next few years,” says John on how he approached his world title campaign. “It’s weird to say that because of how it worked out. I’ve been taking the whole year and every event as a learning curve. Like, ‘Okay, what did I learn from that?’ Even when I won the world title I was still in this place where I was thinking, ‘I need to get to the next heat, and then the next heat and the next’. I wasn’t even thinking too much of winning the world title; it surprised me. Like, ‘Whoa, that happened quicker than I thought it would.’”
And now that John’s won his title, there have been a lot of rumours circulating about him taking off a year to sail around the world. And in the final episode, he’s seen sailing with the Oracle USA team, who are looking to defend their back-to-back America’s Cup titles. “I was never going to take a year off tour,” he levels the gossip. “At least not anytime soon. The closest thing to that would be sailing to Tahiti for the contest.”
Going into the Pipe Masters, John was in the running for his third Triple Crown title, and all anyone could talk about was him draining the swamp at Pipe. And although he has four Volcom Pipe Pro first place finishes, a win at Pipe has eluded him (he finished in the quarters this year, in subpar conditions). “I would love to win it,” he says. “But this year all the media and everyone kept saying, ‘Oh, you got to win Pipe,’ and ‘How bad do you want to win Pipe?’ I was, like, ‘Yes, I want to win it bad,” he laughs. “But at the same time anything can happen. Pipe is such a good wave and everyone on tour can get pretty barreled there. It’s just a matter of being in rhythm with the waves. I wasn’t expecting to win; I just wanted to have fun surfing it. Hopefully one day it will come, but if it doesn’t I still get to surf a hell of a lot of heats out there with one other guy.”
“When I won the title, at first I thought, “Shit, but I still have a lot to improve on,” he continues. “But now, I’m just excited to get to Snapper and back into the rhythm of things.”
Later this week we drop the full uncut interview with John, touching on subjects such as his social media dilemma, the best wave he rode last year (it was a closeout) and how he’s unsure of how to clear immigration if he sails from Hawaii to the Billabong Pro in Tahiti this year.