John John Florence Wins The Volcom Pipe Pro

Photo: Ben Reed

It was a fine day of competitive surfing — the kind that is punctuated by uncontainable outbursts of excitement directed at the computer screen — and it culminated in John John’s fourth victory at the Volcom Pipe Pro. Last year the Hawaiian relinquished his stranglehold on the event he had won three years in succession, bowing out early and leaving the door ajar for Kelly Slater to squeeze his way through. This year, however, not even Kelly could stop him.

The conditions were not exactly classic Pipeline, but they were certainly conducive to surfing of the highest calibre. In fact there were hardly any Pipe waves at all — yesterday it was all Backdoor, which was firing down the reef waves more reminiscent of a right-hand point break, and tailor-made for barrel-to-air combinations.

There are few greater spectacles in world sport — watching John John in his front yard is not far off — than 11-time World Champ Kelly Slater firing on all cylinders, and in his quarter-final match-up Kelly surfed one of the best and most enjoyable heats I’ve seen in a good while. After racing to the event’s first perfect 10 in the opening few minutes, he proceeded very nearly to deliver two or three more — almost sneaking out of ┬áimpossible barrels, not quite able to hang on to one or two audacious punts. The contrast with his lack of rhythm in the final was marked.

The final was ultimately decided in the first five and a half minutes, John John posting an 8.43 almost right on the buzzer, and following it up moments later with a 9.2. Mason Ho was not far behind with a heat total of 15.9, but neither Kelly nor Sea Bass ever managed to extricate themselves from combo-land.

Photo: Brian Bielmann

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