Out of all the contrarian but compelling sensei-ships in surfing (Kelly and Mason? Filipe and Mikey?), there’s fresh news of a co-op before the season’s first event : John Florence has employed the help of the injured Bede Durbidge to help in his preparation for Snapper, sources say.
Florence reportedly flew straight to the Gold Coast after his Eddie win and began a week and a half of training in the smaller conditions.
“He's got all the talent in the world and he just wants to work on a couple of things,” Durbidge said on the WSL's Dawn Patrol. "It's been coming together really nicely. We've been here most mornings for the last 10 days and he's putting himself out there, making sacrifices. He won the Eddie and then came straight here, straight into surfing little Snapper, so he's geared up for a big year.”
More than anyone else in the world, Florence makes surfing look damn easy, yet what appears to be borderline nonchalance in contest heats can sometimes peg him as uncompetitive, not a serious contender for the title. Granted, he had a busy 2015. But now that John’s other projects have calmed down, his training with Bede — a journeyman who’s built a career on focus and consistency more than sizzle — suggests he’s treating this season with a tighter focus on contest surfing, and possibly a No.1 ‘CT ranking.
"You have to surf differently, a bit more conservative in a way,” Florence said. “Contest surfing is a bit different and that's what I've been learning about a lot lately. It's definitely about restraint… It's like surfing at about 80 percent.”
Whether or not restraint turns into a title for Florence, who knows. But the prospect is tantalizingly frightening that his ceiling could still go higher, or that he might be the ultimate switch-flipper: Winning a title could be as easy as choosing to do it.
“He's doing all the right things,” Bede said. “He can change things instantly, and he's so talented. It'll be amazing to see how far he goes this year.”