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John Florence Wins The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro

And reclaims his world No. 1 ranking in the process

There’s a lot of talk of parity in professional surfing these days. And for good reason. From top to bottom the surfing on tour is better than its ever been, making the majority of heats tough to predict, and the winner nearly impossible to call.

Except at Margaret River.

From the second day of competition, held at proper 12-foot Main Break, through to the final versus Kolohe Andino just now, John was surfing on another level from everybody else, wrapping full speed rail turns on double (and even triple) overhead waves, and attacking the end section, rather than just trying to hang on. Where others stuck to the carve, cutback, floater formula, which was typically rewarded in the 8+ range, John was radical and unpredictable, scoring north of 18 points in every single heat he surfed (except round 1, at inconsistent North Point). While Margaret River may not be the most exciting stop on tour, it certainly highlighted a lot of the tour surfers’ weaknesses, and showed us just how much better at high performance surfing in powerful waves John actually is. Maybe it’s because he practices in similar surf at Rockpile behind his North Shore home during the winters, and if that’s the case, the rest of the CT ought to take note, and maybe even follow suit. It seems that most CT surfers focus on two major areas of their game: Performance surfing in rippable waves and barrel riding in the heavy stuff, but not as many (if any?) put much emphasis on pushing their rail surfing in waves of consequence, which is why John is so far ahead of everyone in that arena, as evidenced by this event.

This is what John had to say to the WSL commentary team moments after combo’ing Kolohe in the final:

I’m so stoked right now, the wind stayed calm all day, and the waves are so much fun. I love surfing this wave — just going fast and doing big turns. My board feels insane, Pyzel worked his magic on this one, it’s a unique shape, but it’s been working so good in these waves. It’s an amazing board for this place, and it’s nice to be able to ride a little smaller board out here, to be able to do big turns.

I wasn’t trying to think too much about it [matching his big performances heat after heat], I just went out there and was excited to surf every heat and focused on my own surfing. I was a little nervous surfing against Brother in the final, he was ripping the whole event and he used to beat me all the time at the NSSA Nationals [laughs], so I wanted to get him back.

I’ve still got a lot of adrenaline going at the moment [on how he’s feeling after hitting the reef]. In that semi I felt like I hit a reef wall on the inside, so I’m pretty sore. But I feel OK, and I want to say thanks to all the doctors for helping me get loosened up before the final. That was a really fun final day, and this area is one of my favorite places to come visit. It has some of the best air waves in the world, and I always come here for freesurfs, before and after the contests.

It’s early in the year, so I can’t think too much about that [being back on top of the Jeep Leaderboard], but I’m gonna head to Bells and stay confident and focused, and hopefully we’ll get some fun waves over there. I’m just focusing on my surfing. Wilko won the first two events last year and didn’t win at the end, so anything can happen. But hanging here with Eric, Brandon and Ross, it’s just such a fun crew and I couldn’t have done it without those guys.

[Photo: Joli]