The evolution of John John Florence’s physical, mental, and emotional status has been graphed by surfing’s star-hungry industrial complex since the age of 8, when the tiny towhead first started turning heads at Pipeline.
While there’s been no shortage of surfers being billed as “the future” in the decade since then, few (if any) ever come close to meeting expectations. Yet Florence, now a 20-year-old Hawaiian hero, is growing into the lofty role that his followers have always wanted: to lead the next generation of surf stars into the post-Slater era.
Given his competitive accomplishments in the past 18 months, it’s safe to say Florence is assuming his position. After qualifying for the tour in 2011 he became the first ASP rookie to string together a legitimate title shot in 2012. He’s already a Triple Crown winner, and yes, he’s winning events on the world’s biggest stage. But contest or not, a true testament to his place in our hearts was his debut appearance in the 2012 Surfer Poll awards, where he finished in the No. 2 slot, the highest rank ever for a first timer.
Of course, his latest video short, “Departure Delayed,” reveals why his popularity is soaring. Sure the kid can surf heats, and he absolutely charges the heavy stuff like Pipe, Teahupoo, Waimea, and even Jaws. But he’s also got one massive bag full of futuristic moves, including a well-rounded aerial attack that rivals even the best specialists.
But just in case you’re still wondering if this kid has staying power, you may want to watch the below, because given the evidence presented, and all those graphs I mentioned earlier, there’s a good chance this kid will own something very few ever have: that being the world title, and the mantle of also being considered the best free surfer in the world.