This wave of Nathan Florence's -- yep, that's JJ's younger brother alright -- was actually ridden in late May and not during last week's swell, but the footage has only surfaced in the last day or two. According to Kelly Slater, it's right at the top of the list, no question. “Hands-down, the best wave paddled ever at Teahupo'o in my book" -- and his book's not too far removed from gospel. "That just sent a warning shot over the surfing world's bow! Crazy ride. Can't believe he made it."
Andy Irons might have had something to say about this particular "best ever" claim -- his iconic 2002 wave is the first contender that springs to mind -- and Nate himself held on to an arguably even more ridiculous drop not long before the above ride. But fellow Hawaiian Sebastian "Seabass" Zietz -- a good friend of AI's, incidentally -- agreed with Slater: “That’s definitely the heaviest drop ever in Teahupoo history," he said. “Looks like a stationary wave -- super west and mutated. Gotta be the best Teahupoo wave ever ridden, probably. When that kind of wave comes in…I don’t think I’ve ever even thought of paddling for a wave like that. But it looks like right before he takes off, there’s no way, but he’s fully committed and makes it. Hey, it’s in his blood -- he’s a Florence."
Indeed. Interestingly John John -- who if you were to compile a complete list would probably have several entries in the top 10 -- always maintains that taking off deep and steep into giant barrels is easier on your backhand. To which most mere mortals respond confusedly, "say whaattt?"
Here's a better quality YouTube vid of Nate's wave. Go watch, then go figure.