It was another gutsy and stylish performance for Florence, who remained poised all the way to the top.
Just a few weeks ago the 18-year-old local won Da Hui Backdoor Shootout, which under normal circumstances would be shocking, yet in Florence's case it merely feels like a destiny being fulfilled.
Florence has been a Pipeline darling since he was eight. He started surfing in the Triple Crown at the age of 10. Though his career is just getting started he's as recognized as 95% of the ASP's top performers.
Among the most impressive things about today's emphatic victory was who he beat. Florence joined a stacked filed of Pipe chargers including Jamie O'Brien, Chris Ward and Aamion Goodwin.
Goodwin was raised on Kauai and has been a Pipeline local since he was a teenager, rarely surfing contests, but always a standout when Pipe gets big and heavy, especially today as he surfed his way from the trialist round to the final. Ward has followed in the Archbold, Fletcher and Beschen footsteps, which inevitably lead to Hawaii, and a love affair with Pipeline. He's earned as much respect at Backdoor as any Californian. O'Brien, meanwhile, was arguably the favorite to win. For the past couple years Jamie has been the dominant Pipe specialists, and like Florence, Pipe is literally his backyard.
Florence faced tough draws in every round yet still managed to surf a perfect contest, winning every single heat he surfed. And there were no easy ones in this contest. Volcom has kept this event a 5-Star WQS event to be sure the local Hawaiian surfers -- many of them Pipe standouts -- are well represented.
If this were a 6-Star or a Prime event, the locals would still be crowded out by international surfers with more WQS points. In addition, they held a home-video contest for the final wildcard spot where anyone on earth could send in 5 waves of them surfing Pipe. The winner would get to surf in the event. In the end local charger Kalani Chapman won the spot, and took advantage of the opportunity by making the quarterfinals.
The locals know that this is their best shot at Pipeline glory, so the level of commitment and performance in this event is unparalleled. Most of the surfers in this event have made Pipeline their life's work, and it comes as no surprise that many people have suggested the Volcom Pipe Pro is, in fact, home of the real Pipe Masters. It should be noted that not a single WCT surfer made the final today.
Granted there's little doubt John Florence is destined for the tour. His rise to the Pipe throne means he's reaching the milestones on that master plan the surf world laid out before him when he was nine. And if you watched him at events like the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro last year, you know he's got plans that reach well beyond his backyard. He's already the Prince of Pipeline...but has the whole world in front of him, and this boy plans on being king some day.
FINAL RESULTS VOLCOM PIPE PRO
1- 18.36 John Florence
2- 15.34 Jamie O'Brien
3- 14.46 Chris Ward
4- 10.60 Aamion Goodwin