“The last couple days have been nerve-wracking,” John John Florence said after clinching his second straight World Title on Monday. The 25-year-old Hawaii-born surfer did it in front of a huge hometown crowd at Pipeline, his backyard, and his favorite wave on Oahu’s North Shore. By doing so, Florence becomes the first World Champion since the late Andy Irons to capture his first World Title in back-to-back fashion.
John John Florence’s 2017 Journey to World Title No. 2 2:33 The Hawaiian prodigy clinches his second World Title at the Billabong Pipe Masters. Florence is famously laid back, but beneath the coolness there’s been a ball of stress brewing underneath. He entered the Final of the season aiming to hold off four very dangerous threats. “Gabe was really surfing well. Julian really did well and Jordy was doing well in his first couple of heats. It was just looking like it was going to come down to the very last thing.”
While Julian Wilson and Jordy Smith were eliminated from contention on Sunday, Brazilian Gabriel Medina, Florence’s largest threat, still loomed heading into the last day of the season. Florence needed to make the Final to insure the World Title. Anything less put it at risk.
On Monday morning, Florence hit the water first in Round Four, and he seemed intent on setting the pace early. He opened strong against Caio Ibelli and Joel Parkinson, tapping into the early morning rhythm of Backdoor Pipeline quite nicely. All was going well for Florence until Brazilian Caio Ibelli, who’s been a persistent thorn in Florence’s foot since arriving on Tour in 2016, started causing trouble again.