Monday 26 June 2017 / 03:57 AM

JOHN JOHN DESTINED TO BE THE CHAMP

“Jon Jon’s (sic) only ten years old, but he’s already charging at pipe,” Kelly Slater, 11 times world surfing champion, said in his 2003 autobiography, Pipe Dreams.

At six months old, John John was perched on the end of his mother’s surfboard, riding his first wave to destiny.

#selfie

A photo posted by John john Florence (@john_john_florence) on

By the age of six he was charging pipe, and at thirteen he was the youngest surfer to compete in Van’s Triple Crown, which he went on to win in 2011, aged 19.

Now in 2016 the surfing prodigy has the trophy to prove what people have been saying for years: ‘John John Florence is the best surfer in the world.’

Look mom I did it !! Haha @alexandra_florence What a crazy day today was for me, this has been my dream since I was a little kid growing up in Hawaii watching Kelly and Andy battle for world titles and to win one today is crazy I’m still in shock! I couldn’t have accomplished it with out all of the support I’ve had through out my surfing career @alexandra_florence @nathan_florence @ivflorence3 @brandonwasserman @erik_knutson_ @pyzelsurfboards @lauryncribb @eli_olson @kiron_jabour @koarothman @koatree @peteyjohnson_ @spencerklein_83 @patchy_o @peterkingphoto @bededurbo @blakevincentkueny I could carry this list on for along time but this is a start to everyone I’d like to thank. Most of all this has been one of the most fun years of my life and stoked to get to enjoy it with my friends and family!

A photo posted by John john Florence (@john_john_florence) on

John John’s 2016 campaign kicked off on a similar note to how it will finish, when the North Shore local won the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, a big wave invitational.

The Eddie only runs once the open ocean swell reaches heights of 20ft. As a result, John John is one of only nine surfers to have won the event.

Winner of the people’s choice surfer poll in 2014 and ’15, this week fans all over the planet are celebrating John John’s first WSL world title win after he saluted at the Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal to parcel up the trophy.

So what it is that has everyone, from competitors, to sponsors, to free surfers going gah gah for John John?

Florence has managed to do what few surfers can. He’s been able to forge the spirit of soul surfing with a competitive mindset to create magic in 30-minute heats. Whether he is taking on big waves or slaying the world’s best in front of a panel of judges, he looks relaxed, a smile on his face, almost as if it’s all too easy.

“I’ve never seen anyone laughing themselves to tears on a 20-foot wave before,” recalls Pete Johnson, recounting a story of John John at Phantoms in an interview with Surfer Mag in 2011.

“Thanks for being such an incredible inspiration and ambassador for the sport of surfing. You surf from such a genuine, pure place that everyone can feel the magic when you stand up on your board. This year you found the perfect balance between playing the game and being your raw, spontaneous self. It was so exciting to watch!” three times women’s world surfing champion and fellow Hawaiin Carissa Moore wrote on her Instagram page.

The World Title has been a long time coming for John John, who has spent his whole life working towards fulfilling his dream.

Introduced to the sport by his single mum, Alexandra, John John and his two younger brothers grew up with the world’s most revered surfers in their own backyard.

With the legendary Slater as a neighbour and Jamie O’Brien as a surf partner, it would seem becoming the world’s best surfer was always John John Florence’s destiny.

“We’ve all watched him since he was 7 or 8 surfing around the North Shore and paddling out at Pipe,” Slater said.

“I think if he didn’t win, it would seem like the natural order was out of place.”

And with that short quote to media from the G.O.A.T., it would appear the passing of the torch is complete and is firmly in the grasps of John John…the world now has a new surfing hero.

The world’s best surfers will next head to Hawaii, for The Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing and the prestigious Pipe Masters title. Can John John take it all the way home?

Congratulations on your second title @rissmoore10 it’s crazy how time flies! Seems like Menehune contests were just yesterday

A photo posted by John john Florence (@john_john_florence) on

 

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About the author

Jaymie Faber

Jaymie Faber is a freelance surf and travel writer, and author of a women’s learn to surf book. From Sunshine Coast, Australia, she is mad about surfing, ocean conservation and exploring ‘off the grid’ locations. Jaymie writes for various publications and magazines around the world. See more at jaymiefaber.com

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