With his fourth Volcom Pipe Pro win in five years, the North Shore’s John Florence has solidified his reputation as one of the most dominant Pipe surfers of his era. Following his win over Sebastian Zietz, Mason Ho, and Kelly Slater in shifting barrels at Backdoor, John John took a moment to field a few questions about his relationship with Pipe, his rivalry with Slater, and how this win affects his mindset going into Snapper.
Between last year’s loss out here and coming up just short to Kelly a few times last season, did this win today feel like redemption?
It was. It really did feel like redemption for me to win over Kelly. It was redemption for my performance out here at this event last year, and it also redemption for Kelly winning not only the Pipe Pro but also that semifinal in Tahiti. I still really want to get him back in good surf in a World Tour final. I really need to get back at him in some good waves. [Laughs.]
Did you talk to Kelly at all before the Final? I know you guys are close.
No, I actually didn’t at all. I haven’t really seen him lately, I think he’s been hiding out.
What does a win like this, with a month until Snapper, do for your confidence on the World Tour?
It feels super great. I’m feeling really good going into Snapper. Getting into the contest mode of things feels great, I feel really confident and ready to make a good run, I want to hopefully compete for the title against Gabriel. Last year, I lost in the first round in this contest here and I think it started off my whole year on a weird note. So far, this year has me off on a better foot.
There were really a mixed bag of conditions at this event that ranged from close-to-perfect to the windy, smaller surf we saw in the Final.
It has been really dynamic and the conditions seemed to completely change every day. Yesterday started off big in the morning and then got small. Today was really fun in the morning and got worse throughout the day. You have to be ready for anything. I kind of had all sizes of boards out here today—everything from a 6’6” to a 6’0”.
On a day like today, which really isn’t typical Pipeline, does local knowledge still come into play?
Having grown up surfing here, knowing the waves is always an advantage, but at the same time, it’s not really like this that often. And I normally wouldn’t surf it if it were like this. But then again, knowing the reef and the boils and the lineups in general always helps. But it was pretty random out there. There were deep ones, there were wide ones. If you had priority and you were in the right spot, then you were gonna get the wave.
Can you talk about that massive air in the Final?
I went for it, and I was coming down and just hoping I wasn’t going to land in the flats. I landed hard, but stayed on my board. I think was surprised and then just fell off.
This win today marked your fourth Volcom Pipe Pro win. You’ve won four out of the last five. How’s that feel?
It feels pretty amazing. I’m pretty stoked. To win four, I can’t even believe it yet, to be honest. It’s crazy, I’m just stoked to take this trophy home…again.