This is the first time a Hawaiian has held the world surfing crown since the late Andy Irons (HAW) in 2004.
“I honestly can’t believe it right now, it’s obviously not sunk in just yet,” Florence said. "I know my mom and family are watching online right now and I really wish they were here with me. I’m so stoked. I’ve worked my whole life towards this and I have so many people to thank for this.”
Florence’s season started out slowly with mediocre results across the Australian leg, including the Rip Curl Pro Bells, before posting a victory in Brazil in May. He carried the momentum of his Rio de Janeiro win to strong showings in Jeffreys Bay (2nd), Tahiti (2nd) and France (3rd) while challengers Gabriel Medina (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF) and 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) were unable to maintain consistency, eventually falling out of reach in Portugal. It was a tight win, with his success coming from both Medina and Wilkinson’s early round losses.
"My whole life has gone into this" - John John Florence
“It’s been a long year, but one of the best years in my life, so many fun events and just having a really good time all together and I’ve learned so much,” he continued. “I was expecting it to go to Hawaii and I was just trying to keep surfing through heats.
“My whole life has gone into this, everything I’ve done but just this year especially, learning so much about competitive surfing, focusing completely on it and having so much help and support, it’s been amazing.” Florence added. “The title was my goal this year so at this point I’m just going to go out and have fun.”
The newly crowned WSL Champion took on rookie Conner Coffin (USA) in the final of the Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal, where the two surfers adopted different strategies for the final bout of the European leg. Florence took things to the air with numerous massive rotations while Coffin kept chasing the tubes, successfully navigating a deep one for an excellent 8.60. Florence’s flair peaked in the Final with a huge alley-oop for a 9.50 and the win. Coffin secured a career-high runner-up spot on the Championship Tour and rocketed to No. 19 on the Jeep Leaderboard.
It was an extremely dramatic day in Portugal, and the result couldn’t have been better for the young Hawaiian, the newly crowned 2016 World Champion. Congratulations on your win at the Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal, John, and welcome to the life of a World Champion!
FLORENCE 2016 WSL CT RESULTS
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast: 5th
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: 13th
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro: 13th
Oi Rio Pro: WINNER Fiji Pro: 5th
J-Bay Open: 2nd
Billabong Pro Tahiti: 2nd
Hurley Pro at Trestles: 13th
Quiksilver Pro France: 3rd
Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal: WINNER
Billabong Pipe Masters: TBD
FLORENCE CAREER WSL CT FINISHES:
2016: WSL CHAMPION