JOHN JOHN FLORENCE
HEIGHT: 6'0" (183 cm)
WEIGHT: 168 lbs (76.2 kg)
SHAPER: Jon Pyzel
MODEL: Next Step
NOSE WIDTH: 10.70″
TAIL WIDTH: 13.25″
NOSE ROCKER: 5.90″
TAIL ROCKER: 2.60″
TAIL: Round Pin
CONCAVE: Double to slight vee off the tail
GLASSING: 4×4 Oz. deck, 6 Oz. bottom
BLANK: Green density (standard) Arctic Foam with four-ply stringer
FINS: JJF Techflex Signature Fin
John John has a reputation for riding pretty small boards out at Pipeline. Does this board fall into that category?
Yeah, he's always liked small boards. I think him and Jamie O'Brien have changed the approach a bit. You're really at an advantage backside at Pipeline because you can get so deep and ride a smaller board. These guys grab their rail from takeoff and aren't actually going to the bottom of the wave.
Would you shape him something different for similar sized Sunset or Cloudbreak, or even Teahupoo?
No. As soon as we go to step-ups, essentially a 6'2" or bigger, they're all a version of the same design.
A lot of guys on Tour would ride completely different boards, right?
In the past, guys would order boards specifically for each spot, but John John's a freak. He has natural advantages that other surfers don't. Also, surfing those spots in contests is way different than when a ton of dudes are out. Take Sunset for example, on an average day there are fifty dudes out on 9'6"s and above. When you take away all those dudes and it's just a few guys in the lineup, it's really easy to ride a smaller board.
How did you distribute the volume on this board?
It has a lot of volume for being less than 2 1/2" thick, but I kept it in the middle, under the chest, and through the nose. You don't want any of that volume out on the rail because it will work against you when you are setting your line. The back third is where everything is very foiled down so you have a nice edge that penetrates into the water. By having the volume of a bigger board packed in a smaller board, it helps him get right underneath the lip. In the cover photo, it looks easy, like he's just kickin' it, but that was a heavy drop and you need that extra volume to get in the right spot.
What about the concave? Why have a double to slight vee?
With the double, you get the speed and lift benefits of concave but as you blend it out the back into a vee, you release the pressure that concave creates. Imagine you're at Sunset or Pipe on a single concave and you go to turn. When you put it on rail in that situation, you're creating so much pressure. But if you blend the double into a slight vee, you're adding a tiny bit of tail rocker and letting some water out of the way so there's less pressure.
What can you tell us about the blank and stringer?
It's an Arctic Foam Green Density blank with a thick stringer, a little over 1/4" and four-ply. Arctic's Green density is what I use for all boards over 6'4", whereas I use their lighter yellow density for shortboards. He really likes their foam. If I make him boards with different blanks, he can tell the difference. Also, having that bigger stringer gives him a lot more confidence in his boards. An I-can-do-anything mentality without worrying about it breaking.
How was this board glassed?
On all my step-ups, we do a double 4-oz deck and a 6-oz bottom. A lot of glassers will do a 6-4 deck and a 4-oz bottom, but then you have 10 ounces of cloth on the deck and only 4 on the bottom. To give it more balance and avoid creating a weak side that buckles easily, we do a 6-oz bottom and double-four deck. The decks will dent a little bit, but the boards tend to have more strength overall.
With the Tour around the corner, are you guys doing anything to prepare?
I'm building him a bunch of shortboards right now, and he's riding shortboards everyday somewhere. Not necessarily in waves like he's going to surf in Australia though. He hasn't grown in a while, so it's pretty easy as far as sizing goes. It's not like he gained 10 pounds last year or anything. The main thing I would say, compared to last year, is he's really into round pins because he's able to push harder through turns without feeling like he's going to slide out.
Do the roundtails have a similar surface area in the tail as the squashes you make him?
Yeah, they're basically squash tails missing corners. Maybe a little coffee cup full of volume is missing. For a long time, he was reluctant to try them. The common perception is that they're for bigger waves, but once he started riding a couple, they felt good in small waves. They carry their curve through the outline really well, so in that sense it loosens the board up a bit. They really suit his style of surfing because he pushes so hard through his turns.
Come Snapper, we might see him on one?
There's about a 90 percent chance he'll be riding a roundtail. He'll take ten boards down there and I'll be there as well and will shape some boards while there. With Margaret River on the schedule, he'll be there for two months. It's a long time.
The addition of Margaret River must present some new challenges.
I'm pretty confident. He's riding the same design he won on there a few years ago. If it's bombing, he'll need some step-up boards. Some 6'2"s, maybe a 6'6". Like I was saying earlier, the step-up boards we're making, the ones he's riding at Pipe and Sunset, are pretty universal. The double concave really helps give him speed without looking like he's riding a big, stiff gun.