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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Tue, 19 December 2017

John John Florence became the first male surfer since Andy Irons in 2002/03 to successfully defend a maiden world title ... during the Billabong Pipe Masters today.

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TIMES TWO: Pipe winner Jeremy Flores looks on as John John celebrates. Photo WSL / Heff

In a tight bout against Jeremy Flores at his home break, Florence came up just short with a 16.16 against the Frenchman's 16.23. But the Hawaiian had already sealed the deal when last remaining contender Gabriel Medina (BRA) was eliminated in the Quarters by Flores, who was adds another Pipe Master trophy to his cabinet after the first back in 2010.

“It’s been my dream to win here at home,” Florence said. “There’s been a nervous build-up to this event, and I just don’t know what to say, I’m shaking. So many people have been here for me this year and it’s been awesome. It’s been an awesome year and I’m just so stoked.”

Before Irons, the only others to have done it are Mark Richards (AUS, 1979 & 1980), Tom Carroll (AUS, 1983 & 1984) and Tom Curren (USA, 1985 & 1986).

Florence’s season started with strong results in Australia, including a win at Margaret River. After two 13th place finishes in Rio and Fiji, Florence steadily improved his results through the season. With a 5th place in Jeffreys Bay and Tahiti, followed by Semifinal berths at Trestles and in France, Florence reclaimed the Jeep Leader Jersey from closest rival Jordy Smith (ZAF).

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WORMHOLE: Jeremy Flores adds another Pipe Masters trophy to his cabinet. Photo WSL / Poullenot

Smith went into the last event of the season ranked third and with a mathematical chance of clinching his first world title. The two-time WSL runner-up was defeated by 11-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) in Round 3, finishing equal 13th and ending the year fourth on the leaderboard.

Going into the Billabong Pipe Masters, only four surfers remained in contention for the title. However, Gabriel Medina (BRA), Julian Wilson (AUS), and Smith weren’t able to deliver the results needed to block Florence at his home break in Hawaii.

"I think I learned a lot about myself this year competing with all the pressure, especially coming from last year’s win,” Florence continued. “It’s been a hard year and I’ve had some ups and some downs, but mostly I had a lot of fun. I think that's what came out of last year and I really, really wanted to enjoy every moment of it.”

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MAGIC MEDINA: Gabriel has been a title contender every year since 2014. Photo WSL / Poullenot

Universally regarded as one of the best allround surfers, Florence has diligently worked at improving since qualifying for the elite WSL Championship Tour (CT) in 2011. A seven-year competitor on the CT, he claimed his maiden title in 2016 with an early-season clincher in Portugal, having previously finished in the Top 5 twice before (4th in 2012 and 3rd in 2014). With this second title, the surfing world is eyeing the beginning of a new dynasty in high-performance surfing.

“It’s been scary being that close in points to someone like Gabriel (Medina) who’s such a great surfer out here and a fierce competitor,” said Florence. “His comeback in Europe was amazing, he won two events in a row and then was right there in the title race. Surfing with him out here has been nerve racking but it would have been cool if we had a final for the title.

“I couldn't have done it without my guys traveling with me and I have to thank my mom for all this because she took me and my brothers traveling when we were young and really just got us to love the ocean and I think that's what we’re all in this for - the love of surfing - so thank you, mom, I wouldn't be here without you.”

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TUBEMEISTER: John John marks the start of a new epoch in pro surfing. Photo WSL / Poullenot

In addition to cementing his status as the best surfer on the planet, Florence spends his free time and celebrity working toward ocean health initiatives and environmental causes.

Flores took out Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Medina (quarters) enroute to the final. He rounds out the year 15th on the Jeep Leaderboard to solidify his place on the 2018 CT - thanks to today’s victory, his best result of the season and his first CT win since Tahiti in 2015.

Florence dispatched Wilson, who finishes third in the world this year, in the quarters and (after news of his title) faced down Ian Gouveia (BRA) in the semis.

Medina finishes the year 2nd after his 5th at Pipe. Medina’s season started out well with a third at the season opener in Australia but a series of poor results saw him slide down the rankings. A third in South Africa, followed by a runner-up in Tahiti and then back-to-back wins in Europe saw him rocket into the title race. The 23-year-old from Maresias, Sao Paulo, became Brazil’s first WSL Champion in 2014, and since then has been in the World Title race every year (third in 2015 and 2016).

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THREE IN ONE: Griffin Colapinto, 19, first Californian to win a Triple Crown. Photo WSL / Cestari

Freshly qualified for the 2018 CT, Griffin Colapinto (USA), 19, added to an amazing season by taking the 35th Annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing today - the first Californian to win the coveted surfing series. Colapinto captured a runner up finish at the first Vans Triple Crown jewel, the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa Ali‘i Beach Park, then made the (four-man) final at the Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach, for a commanding lead in the series. He secured the win when contending rival Italo Ferreira (BRA) went down to Igarashi in the quarters.

The world's best surfers will return in 2018 with the first event on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, in March. For highlights check out www.WorldSurfLeague.com.

WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (after Billabong Pipe Masters)
1 - John John Florence (HAW) 59,600 pts
2 - Gabriel Medina (BRA) 53,700 pts
3 - Julian Wilson (AUS) 48,650 pts
4 - Jordy Smith (ZAF) 47,600 pts
5 - Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 40,700 pts

Billabong Pipe Masters Final Results
1 - Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.23
2 - John John Florence (HAW) 16.16

Billabong Pipe Masters Semifinal Results
SF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 12.56 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 12.33
SF 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.20 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 11.33

Billabong Pipe Masters Quarterfinal Results
QF 1: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 9.70 vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.40
QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.60 vs. Julian Wilson (AUS) 2.64
QF 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.76 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 6.04
QF 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 9.57 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 8.67

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 5 Results
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.23 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 9.43
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.50 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 7.90
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.97 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 9.16
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 6.34 def. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 0.90

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 4 Results
Heat 1: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 11.73, Conner Coffin (USA) 1.23, Julian Wilson (AUS) 0.43
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 13.17, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.87, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 4.53
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.37, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.10, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 7.57
Heat 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.44, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 4.60, Kelly Slater (USA) 4.44

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