Well, that’s a tad disappointing for surf fans. But all in the name of good health. Just minutes ago, John John Florence, one of the best Pipeline surfers in modern history, announced his withdrawal from the 2018 contest coming up in a matter of days. “Feeling really good to get back in the water,” he wrote on Instagram, above. “I think I’m close to 100 percent but I’m not there yet…The Pipe Masters is my favorite contest on tour so it’s a really difficult decision, but I am going to withdraw from the event.”
Florence obviously doesn’t trust his own body, as he alluded to in the post. And most everyone knows that to surf a wave like Pipe, one must be clicking on all cylinders. A single misstep and, well, you know….
It’s been a bit of a down year for Florence in terms of competition, after he was crowned World Champion at last year’s Pipeline event. In late July, the two-time champ and maker of gorgeous web edits announced he was withdrawing from competition after a slow start and a serious knee injury suffered while freesurfing after he was eliminated from Indonesia’s Bali Pro. “The diagnosis of my knee is a high-grade partial tear to my right ACL,” he said at the time. “It’s a bummer not to be able to surf but I’m excited for the opportunity to get into some new types of adventures with friends and family while I’m recovering. In terms of competing again I am not sure if it will be 60 days or 120 days, or less or more. When I return I want to know that I can go as fast and as big as I want to without any thought of my knee. That will be my test before I put a jersey back on.”
It looks like he didn’t pass his own test. Florence opted not to have surgery on the leg, which seems rare when compared to athletes who’ve suffered ACL tears in other sports. The recovery time for ACL surgery is almost certainly an entire calendar year. It’ll be worth watching whether or not Florence opts for surgery at some point soon. If he does, it may delay his return to competition for the foreseeable future.