John John Florence & Friends: A Gallery

Pictorial perfection from W.A., Tahiti, South Africa & Hawaii


Longtime friend Albee Layer put in two tours of duty for VFABM, one in West Oz and one in Africa. “I got one of the best waves of my life in Africa,” said Albee. “But West Oz didn’t come as easy. Lots of chipping away.”   Photos: Bielmann

“It took us a while to discover this wave in West Oz,”says Matt Meola.“We knew people surfed there when it was glassy or offshore. And then the first day we rolled up on it, it was howling wind and doubling up on this dry reef. It looked terrible and sharky and scary and Albee somehow convinced me and John to come surf it. As soon as we go out there, we were like,‘Holy shit. This wave is so sick.’ It has so much potential. The rest of the trip, we ended up surfing there almost every day.” Photo: Bielmann
Jordy Smith joined John for the Africa trip and almost got lost along the way. Fortunately, he had no problem finding his rail. Photo: Specker
The view from their deck in the Transkei. Thanks to its notoriously sharky reputation as a surfer’s version of Russian roulette, these waves peel unridden most of the time. Photo: Fox
Fully immersed in South Africa’s wild coast. “We camped out at this place for four or five days,” says Florence.“That was about as much as our legs could handle.” Photo: Fox

In the midst of the first full season of filming on the North Shore, photographer Cole Barash embedded himself and captured some of the less expected moments of the movie-making process. From top: It’s one- take only for JJF. 2) The tree house that Pipeline built. Blake and John. 3) Many surfboards were harmed in the making of this film. 4) A (rare) moment of reflection. Photos: Barash

Bruce Irons (literally) shared a few waves with John during the second West Oz trip.“Last time I went on a trip with John, he was 15 years old,”says Bruce.“Just to see his progression as a surfer and as a’s cool, you know.What he’s become. From that little kid at Pipeline, to this man, ruling the surfing world. And you know the best part about it: he’s a very humble kid.” Photo: Bielmann
JJF: as driven behind the lens as he is in front of it. Photo: Fox
Happy hour at a rondavel, or African- style home.All the materials are raw for these homes, consisting of a mixture of stones, sand, soil and cow dung. Photo: Fox
Three months in Africa and five trips to “TheSlab” created their fair share of moments like this one. Left to right: John, Ivan, Frank and Albee.
“John’s surf drive is so high,”says mentor Jamie O’Brien.“If you want to hang with John John, you better get ready to surf all damn day. I mean, I put my time in on that South Africa trip. But after three or four hours, I’d go and lay on the rocks and he’d keep doing laps. I was just hoping it’d start barrelling so I could keep up with him.” Photo: Fox

(From top) W.A. Training for his next big landing. Sugarloaf Rock; John waits for his lift to the heaviest wave in West Oz; “The Right”; Albee Layer keeps John on his toes.  Photos: Gurney

Much like a precision NBA shooter, John can go on streaks where he can do no wrong. During a stretch in West Oz he did just that, seamlessly pulling a string of the best manoeuvres of the film. Photo: Bielmann
Raimana Van Bastolaer: “When John came to stay with me, I‘d show him the waves, where to paddle out, the intricacies of the island. But even then, he did his own homework. He’d learn through watching others, and learn the waves for himself. He has an intimate knowledge of the waves of Tahiti. Part of that is a natural understanding of the ocean, but another part is that he really put in the work to understand how the waves work here. Now he leads the pack.” Photo: Mosqueira

(top) He ain‘t heavy… Nathan Florence (here) John was vocal in how different it was surfing in front of the heli.“It was some of the most pressure I’ve felt. Maybe even more than heats. It’s loud, wind’s blowing everywhere and you know you only have a couple shots at it. Definitely took a while to get used to it.” Photos: Specker


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