Ever since John John Florence’s debilitating knee injury in June of last year, the general public has been starved of clips of the two-time world champ. It begs the question: will he be well enough to compete come the start of the 2019 Championship Tour?
In September, Florence and longtime creative partner Blake Kueny released “Space” that’s mind-blowingly good and has since racked up 615,000 views, but all the clips were pre-knee crumpling. And it’s been over eight months since fans have been able to watch Florence compete live and in-person.
There have been glimmers of hope, sure. Before this year’s Billabong Pipe Masters kicked off and Gabriel Medina claimed his second world title, John John Florence appeared in the heat draw. Alas, a few days before the event Florence took to Instagram saying he was pulling out because he “[didn’t] have full trust in [his] movements.”
Weeks later, a perceptive videographer in Australia noticed John John in the lineup out at Snapper looking spry. It was later revealed he was in town to sail in the esteemed Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
And more recently, a random surfer and YouTuber, OT OT, caught John John fading take-offs at Log Cabins just a few days after the conclusion of the Volcom Pipe Pro (see above). A contest, it’s worth noting, Florence has won four times and has never missed since its inception in 2010.
So, will John John Florence have “trust in his movements” by the time the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast rolls around in April? It may be too soon to tell. Those in Florence’s camp did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did the WSL on Florence’s absence from the Volcom Pipe Pro.
That Florence is in the water at all seems promising, but clearly there was some calculation from Florence’s camp that jeopardizing another season by surfing a QS event, even if it is Pipeline, and risking injury was not a chance worth taking.
For the time being, John John fans hoping for new clips may be forced to rely on the ones coming through in drips and drabs (e.g. the video above). Or re-watch “Space.” Yeah, maybe that’s a better bet.