Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 | T: lamono
A few days before heading towards Landes to participate in the Quiksilver Pro France, we had the opportunity of talking with John John Florence, who is currently ranked first in the World Surf League Championship Tour, and probably on the way to become the best surfer in history. He was kind enough to offer us some minutes of his time to get to know him better, and after spending some time alone with him, one thing that was clear is that this guy doesn’t consider himself a star and is still very grounded, keeping it real, even after winning events like the Volcom Pipe Pro four times and “The Eddie” Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational, becoming the youngest contestant to ever win this trophy, with just 23 years. Present during the inauguration of the Hurley Surf Club in San Sebastian, thanks to Pukas, he talked about the importance of training, technique and family, besides letting us know how he manages to find a balance between free surfing and maintaining his crown on the road to win the world title. A guy that spends the whole year doing what he does best, riding waves, “making it look easy, making everyone else look silly, because he is the man”, as Mitch Crews once said.
Nowadays, kids have the opportunity of having a coaching supported with video material, as it’s happening here thanks to the Hurley Surf Club, something that helps them develop their technique. When you were a kid, how was your training? Well, when I was a kid I lived in Hawaii, close to the beach, and we just surfed all day; that was my training, surfing all day long. I used to go to school and then come home and go out to surf, hang out at the beach, just spending time our there, bodysurfing. It wasn’t much of a formal training but mainly spending time in the ocean, surfing and having fun, specially having fun in the ocean. I love the ocean.
And do you think that nowadays that mentality is getting lost, aiming to improve technique but also emphasizing on having fun? Yeah, learning and developing your technique is super important, but I think people get too carried away into that and lose the fun of the actual surfing. Surfing is fun because everyone has a different style, you know? You surf how you feel the best. Having someone tell you how to do it is one thing, and you can actually be open-minded and say, ‘okay, maybe I’ll try that, but I want to do it my way’, and that’s another thing, that’s kind of what I’ve been able to do with my surfing. I know how I want to surf, what feels good to me, and then being open-minded and taking a couple of tips here and there, always helps.
Clearly surfing is one of the most important things in your life, is it important for your family too? Yes, totally, my whole family was born by the ocean and we have always lived next to it, having fun thanks to it, either surfing or sailing or bodysurfing, doing anything involved with the ocean… fishing, the list goes on. The ocean is our life.
And how do you combine competing and free surfing? Tell us how do you experience both of these, do you feel different when you are free surfing? Yes, competition and free surfing are two totally separate things. In the competitions you have the pressure of surfing next to another person and you have limited time and space, in free surfing you are just free to do what you want, you can go and try an air and fall every single time, if you want to. In the contest you have to think a little more, but its fun, they complement each other, it’s a good balance.
And what does you family think about how well you’ve been doing for the last few years? My family is super supportive, they use to travel everywhere when I am around, my mom has come here with me this year; it’s cool to have the family around sometimes.
It’s pretty crazy, I’m achieving one of my life goals, on the road to win the world title, but it’s a long year and I cannot think about it too much
© Gines Pedrero
At 23, what is it like to be leading the WSL rankings? It’s pretty crazy, I’m achieving one of my life goals, on the road to win the world title, but it’s a long year and I cannot think about it too much, it’s too much pressure to put on yourself, so I’m just trying to have fun and surf more heats.
One of the reasons you are here is to present to us the fourth chapter of your video series TWELVE. What will we see in this episode? We show some of the stuff I get to do at home, between some of the events, like sailing, surfing, getting to visit some of the other islands in Hawaii, so we can get to see different parts of Hawaii that we usually don’t, we show a lot of that and then a bit of free surfing too, which is mainly what I do between events, when I have time off.
What was your inspiration for doing this series? My inspiration came after we finished the movie project A View From a Blue Moon. We spent the last few years working on that, so when we finished, we were looking what we could do in the future, so we just worked around the idea. Since I enjoy surfing, working with my friend Eric and being home, we decided to do something around the contests, and focus on what I do on my free time.
The Basque Country in Spain has always been able to get a surfer on the tour, like Aritz, do you think that the Hurley Surf Club will help elevate local surfers to be amongst the best in the world in a not too distant future? Yes, I definitely think it’s going to play a big role in the near future, especially now that surfing is growing so fast, becoming an Olympic sport in the next Olympic Games in Japan, and every day there are more people interested. For kids, now being able to train in a facility like this one, with coaches that can help them improve significantly, making them better for competition, I think it’s going to help a ton.
As an athlete, how much do you train and why is it so important? Training is very important. I train in a few different ways, I train surfing, practicing surfing all the time, but also skate a ton, and then I do a little bit of training on the side, stretching; it’s all about maintaining your body, keeping yourself flexible and strong enough for the competition, specially nowadays when everyone is trying to get one step further than the other person.
© Gines Pedrero
Have you ever met frustration throughout your career, either when you were not able to catch the perfect wave or could not perform as you expected? Yes, I have definitely met frustration, for sure, but the best thing you can do is not letting that take hold of you, because surfing is a sport where you relay on the ocean, which is unpredictable and you cannot control anything in it, so the best advice is just try to enjoy whatever is coming to you.
When you look at the size of the waves in Hawaii, what’s on your mind? I grew up there, watching those waves, so when you are riding them it’s kind of trial and error, learning about the ocean, getting to know where you are at, not getting too overconfident, because you must have present all the time that the ocean can be dangerous.
What’s your opinion about this Hurley Surf Club in San Sebastian? I think is great to have a place like this in such a cool city, that offers the opportunity of going out surfing with a coach for ninety minutes and then come back and see the video footage, go have lunch and then go back surfing, it’s just such a nice set up for that.
© Carles Medina
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