By tracking Nathan Florence’s social media and YouTube posts from the last 11 months, we see a surfer in sync with the world’s best waves. His 2022 might be summed up as a year of being in the right place at the right time. Here are his highlights from an epic lap around the sun. “Yeah, 100 percent, best year of my life,” he told us. “When winter ended in Hawaii, Pipe had been good for nearly two months straight. I thought I’d be burnt, but the world had opened up by then and was more free to travel. I told myself, ‘This year, no down days. Step on the gas, no taking time off to train for next season.‘”
A regular bread-and-butter start to a chocolate waffle year starts with a couple of Backdoor bombs for Nathan. Incredible waves, well-ridden, but nothing too crazy…yet.
Still in the U.S. of A., Florence warms up for a year on the road with a trip to Austin with Koa Rothman. And when in Texas…
“I have always trained year around anyway,” he explained, “and so I said ‘every single swell I saw I’d chase.’ And when I did that it felt like I needed clones. There were swells everywhere all the time, and I wanted different locations than the normal. I ended up surfing in nearly nine countries I think, all on swells and waves of consequence. It was a slab tour. A score fest!”
Indeed, the slab hunting tour begins in earnest, and the first stop is Shipsterns. Florence had obviously been reading Charles H Spurgeon, known as the Prince of Preachers, who said, “Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began.” Shippies provided an ideal launching pad.
May: West Oz and Tahiti
Florence heads to West Oz, again arriving in the middle of primetime slab season. His efforts at the Box and North Point turned heads, though it was the negotiation of these steps that might have been one of his most impressive performances of 2022.
With the first giant swell of the season hitting Tahiti, Florence bails from Oz and scores solid Teahupo’o before the month is out. Again, he snags some of the best paddle waves of the sessions, this time with younger brother Ivan.
Indo called and Florence picked up and then scored a historic six-week run of endless swell. The highlight comes with multiple sessions at HTs, as big as it has been surfed, often with just Nate and Ivan in the lineup. This particular wave blew minds all around the world.
August: Tahiti and Mexico
Eventually tired of endless, cyan-blue, roll-in barrels, Florence swaps the Indian Ocean for the Pacific. There’s a five-day barrel bender back at Teahupo’o, before a bolt to Puerto Escondido for some thick sand-based barrels. The lack of coral doesn’t seem to affect him too much.
“It just all lined up,” he said. “A month in Oz, a strike in Tahiti, two months in Indo, straight to Mexico, home for a day, straight to the South Pacific, Fiji and beyond finding new waves with my brothers. I knew I wanted Europe and I had planned to do two months from the start and let that lead into my Hawaii winter.”
Understandably, Nate must be feeling the pinch by now and needs some R and R. And what better way to slab decompress than by joining his two brothers John and Ivan on John’s catamaran as he explores the South Pacific? Everyone needs their downtime, right?
The Old World beckons, and Florence stumps up in Europe as the first of the winter North Atlantic swells start delivering on the continent. The Cave in Portugal, another wave on Florence’s slab bucket list, gets ticked. Nathan meanwhile, gets licked.
Clearly identifying The Cave as having far too much water, our intrepid explorer headed to the north of Scotland to find a wave that is 75 percent rock. He succeeds!
The Ultimate Mic Drop: Ireland
How do you cap what might be the best year of barrels ever ridden by a single surfer? Well, you head to Ireland, just as Mullaghmore is copping its first giant swell of the big-wave season. Then you paddle and make, the best backside tube ever ridden at the big wave slab. In your first session.
“Europe was pre planned,” he said. “I wanted to come and enjoy it with my wife, and that we did. Of course I had my boards in case the swell lined up. My wife with a handycam and my GopPro, we toured Europe and chased more swell and enjoyed it all! It has been a dream, every location this year I felt I had had sessions of my life. From 12-foot Lances Right alone with my brother to slabs in Scotland alone with my wife, culminating at a very scary wave and with a lot of luck, one of the waves of my life at Mullaghmore.”
A Final Glance at Nate’s Itinerary