John John Florence - photo credit aspworldtour.com
Hawaiian surfer John John Florence had a serious wipeout in last month’s Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast that left him with a severely injured ankle. As a result, Florence was forced to throw in the towel and call it quits until his ankle heals. This comes as unfortunate news to all of his fans, but we look forward to seeing him back in the ocean once his injury heals. Here we’ll take a closer look at this most recent event and what’s in store for Florence’s future.
It was business as usual at the 2013 Quicksilver Pro Gold Coast held in Queensland, Australia. The waves were moderate with an average height of just 3-4 feet, and the sun was beaming down with no clouds in sight. Florence came away with a win during the first round over his opponent Kai Otton and Patrick Gudauskas. The following day, however, Florence attempted an in-air full-rotation that left him with an ankle injury. This ultimately forced Florence to withdraw from the competition as he allows the injury to heal.
It was certainly sad news for fans and friends of Florence to hear about the young surfer’s injury. If you’ve kept up with this surfing superstar, you might recall his impressive fourth place finish at the 2012 ASP World Tour. In last years tour, Joel Parkinson came away with first place, Kelly Slater won second, Mick Flanning won third, and John John Florence nailed the fourth place.
Like many professional surfers, Florence started his career at a young age. Growing up in Hawaii, he naturally took to the waves anytime he had the chance. Florence claims that the first wave he ever rode was when he was just 6 months old while wearing a life vest. In 2005-2006, he became the youngest surfer to compete in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. In the following years of his life, Florence won numerous amateur and professional-level events, and eventually gained worldwide recognition for his accomplishments.
Although this most recent ankle injury sounds like a deal-breaker, it’s not the worst experienced by Florence. Less than 2 years ago, the young surfer fractured his lower spine while riding a wave off the coast of California. You might be surprised to hear that it wasn’t the ocean floor or coral that broke his back, but rather the lip of wave. If Florence could fully recover and heal from a broken back, he should have no problem kicking this ankle injury.
We’ve now completed the first two rounds of the Hurley Pro Trestles, and so far the waves have been pretty good—a little inconsistent, but when they come through they’ve given surfers more than enough to work with. And with a similar but slightly better forecast for the rest of the event, we’ve seen enough of the action to have a pretty good idea of how things might go from here.
Let’s note that Trestles might be one of the toughest contests to predict of the year. Various commentators and media have all picked different favorites—Kelly (of course), John John (always a threat), Gabriel Medina (who tore it up at the Nike Pro at Trestles earlier in the year), maybe a rejuvenated Jordy, or maybe Mick or Parko or—or, really, any of the top 16 guys could win this one.
The big reason this contest is so open is that everyone has filled in the gaps in their game. The younger, more air-focused guys have honed their rail games—Julian, John John, and Jordy can all put it on rail with the best of them. And the older, more traditional surfers can now throw down airs to match the groms: for the best air of the event so far, it’s a toss up between Taj Burrow (age 34) and his full-rotation reverse, and Heitor Alvez (age 30) and his totally unexpected rodeo.
When you have sixteen or so guys who can all match each other trick for trick and turn for turn, and when you have a canvas as easy as Trestles for them to work with, the results often come down to luck and tiny mistakes—both of which are tough to predict.
But one thing we’ve learned so far is that, at decent Trestles, local knowledge isn’t as important as it is at other breaks. Kolohe Andino and our own team rider Patrick Gudauskas probably surf Trestles more than any of the other guys on tour, and both of them went down in round two. Kolohe surfed well but fell victim to Heitor’s rodeo. Likewise, Patrick seemed on-point but lost to an on-fire Jeremy Flores. Both of these guys can surf Trestles with the best of them—and can snag waves when Trestles is at its most crowded—but that didn’t turn out to be enough of an advantage to get out of the first two rounds.
But the good news here is that the surfing action has been awesome, and with the official Surfline forecast predicting the arrival of a nice swell over the next couple of days, it’s only going to get better. If a giant rodeo flip only scores a 9.0, the rest of the Hurley Pro Trestles might feature some of the best competitive surfing we’ve ever seen.
The first two rounds of the Billabong Tahiti Pro happened so long ago—almost a week now—that they seem more like qualifiers than the actual contest. But with the official Surfline forecast showing a promising swell for this weekend, it looks like there’s a chance of finishing up the contest in some pretty good to great waves. Here’s a look back on what happened in those first two rounds and what to expect when the contest resumes.
One third of the field was eliminated in round two, and the biggest surprise is probably Jordy Smith’s quick exit. Actually, it’s probably not that surprising—after Jordy’s injury in Tahiti last year he’s had trouble finding a competitive rhythm. It could be the lingering effect of the injury, it could be complacency, or it could be that the new kids on the WT (mainly John John and Gabriel Medina) are making the tour all that much more competitive. Whatever the cause, it’ll be interesting to see how Jordy fares on the back half of the tour.
The waves in some of the round-two heats were inconsistent with long lulls, and that’s what undid Jack’s team rider Pat Gudauskas. In his heat against Michel Bourez, Pat only managed a total heat score of 3.4. If you’ve seen Pat surf, you’d probably guess that the only way he’d get a score that low is if he was riding a chunk of sheetrock or if he didn’t get any waves. In this case, it was the latter. He waited the better part of the heat for a decent wave, but the only wave that came was a shoulder-high crumbler without a barrel—and it wasn’t enough to get much of a score, no matter what Pat did with it.
If the competition continues to see heats like Pat’s without many scoring opportunities, it probably won’t come down to who’s the best tube rider or who’s willing to take off on the heaviest wave. It’s more likely that success will come to the savviest competitors. Typically the tour veterans have an edge when it comes to competitive strategy, but some of the younger guys—Gabriel Medina in particular—have shown a knack for knowing how to win even when the waves don’t cooperate. So if the surf is inconsistent, the drama might be less about deep barrels and more about priority and positioning (and maybe even some hassling), which is still fun to watch, in its own way.
But the forecast shows that the waves should be okay by Tahitian standards—that is, hollow and overhead—so if the weather cooperates and the swell stays consistent, hopefully the rest of the contest will be decided on the waves. Strategy and savviness are an important part of surfing—ever try to catch a wave at Lowers on a summer afternoon?—but at Teahupoo it’s way more fun seeing who can take off deepest on the biggest bomb.
Biggie vs. Tupac. Right vs. left. Chick-fil-A vs. In N Out. For ages we’ve battled over which coast is the best. But here’s where we settle it once and for all—the Neff East vs. West Surf Shop Showdown!
Neff East Vs. West Surf Shop Showdown Schedule
RD 1 Tuesday, August 21: SurfRide (West) vs. Heritage (East)
RD 2 Thursday, August 23: Jack’s Surfboards (West) vs. Sweetwater (East)
RD 3 Tuesday August 28: Town & Country (West) vs. IWS Deerfield (East)
RD 4 Thursday August 30: NorCal Surf Shop (West) vs. Inlet Outlet Surf Shop (East)
RD 5 Tuesday September 4: Spyder (West) vs. Catalyst (East)
You will decide the winner for each round, then we’ll team up with ya’ll to determine the grand prize winning team that will head home with $5,000 cash money!
The best—or craziest, or most crowded, or whatever adjective you choose—week of the year at Huntington has ended, and Julian Wilson walks away with the most prestigious contest win of his young career. There were lots of memorable moments from this year’s comp—anyone see Dane Reynolds’s backside tail-waft snap-things?—but what I might remember most was that this contest was defined by a single move: the air reverse.
I briefly started watching the heats on demand to count how many air reverses were attempted in the pro men’s division throughout the contest, but it just seemed too daunting. So I’m going to make the claim that this year’s U.S. open featured more air-reverse attempts than any previous pro men’s contest. If you want to try to prove me wrong by watching a few hours of heats on demand, go for it. But either way, anyone watching this year’s U.S. Open saw an enormous number of air reverses. As Kelly Slater said from the guest commentator’s tower, “Everyone’s sticking air reverses. It’s literally the new drop in. It’s almost like nothing.”
Let’s back up for a second. Even pro surfers and pro-surfing commentators can get a little loose on their terminology sometimes, but for our purposes here an air reverse is that it’s when a surfer and his board leave the water completely and rotates his tail in the direction they’re moving down the wave and land with their fins forward. If that’s confusing, check out the first four tricks on the U.S. Open highlights video. Those are frontside air reverses, and good ones too. Backside air reverses are the same thing but—you guessed it—when a surfer’s going backside. A lot of times you’ll see surfers continue to spin after they land so that they’re again facing forward, but don’t be fooled—it’s still an air reverse. If the full spin is done in the air, it’s a full-rotation, like this, and it’s generally awesome.
Photo courtesy of stabmag.com
Okay. So now that we’re all brushed up on our terminology: why were there so many air reverses at this year’s U.S. Open? Well, the air-reverse is a cool, crowd-pleasing move and—unlike big barrels or gouging turns—air reverses are one of the few cool, crowd-pleasing moves that can be done on two-to-three-foot onshore semi-closeout beachbreak, a la the Huntington Pier.
And, more importantly, this was a contest, and air reverses are one of the higher scoring moves a surfer can do on a closeout. Some of the heats didn’t offer too many open-faced waves, which means that the surfers either had to settle for low scores or make something happen on a bad wave—and usually that something was an air-reverse. All of the quarterfinal heats were won with the help of an air reverse. Without a reliable air game, you can’t get far in a tournament of less-than-perfect waves.
But an air-game alone didn’t win the contest. Julian Wilson—one of the best air-reversers out there—won his finals heat with traditional turns, four meaty backside snaps on two different waves. He won his quarterfinal against John John with one air reverse and one wave that was just smart competitive surfing—all he needed was a mid-range three, and instead of doing an air reverse he did a small no-rotation air. It was an air Julian would probably be embarrassed of in a free surf, but it got him the score he needed to edge out John John. Julian showed that he had the whole package: smart surfing, top-notch turns, and, yes, a solid air reverse.
The Nike U.S. Open of Surfing—the annual concert and massive beach party with a surf comp on the side—is descending on Huntington Beach this week. There’ll be concerts, skate comps, and thousands and thousands of beachgoers, but the real show is still in the water. Here are a few of the things we here at Jack’s Surfboards are looking forward to.
Watching Jack’s Team Riders
We’re used to seeing John John Florence charging at Pipe and South Pacific reefs, but a John John sighting at Huntington Beach is rare indeed. John’s been holding his own on the ASP World Tour this year, and no one would be surprised if he won the U.S. Open.
Team riders Pat and Tanner Gudauskas will also be in the pro men’s mix. They’re SoCal natives and no strangers to Huntington, and we’re hoping their local knowledge and top-notch air abilities will see them deep into the contest. Pat’s been known to throw the occasional rodeo flip, and Tanner rips on waves of any size. Whatever happens, these guys put on a show whenever they’re in the water and are always worth watching.
Junior Men’s Surf Comp
The Pro Men’s events tend to get all the attention, but the Junior Men’s division is where you can see future world champs cut their teeth. So don’t be surprised to see surfing on par—and sometimes even better—than the Pro Men’s division. We’ll be cheering on Jack’s Team riders Jeremy Carter, Derek Peters, and Bobby Okvist. These kids are good, and hungry, and definitely worth watching.
The Best Pros on Everyday Waves
The official forecast for the event predicts contestable waves for the start of the event, with a south swell filling in toward the end of the week. “Contestable” at Huntington Beach looks very different from “contestable” at Cloudbreak. Expect waist-to-chest high with decent conditions for most of the event. You’re probably not going to see ten-second barrels—in fact, we’ll guarantee it—but odds are you’ll see some big airs and deep turns.It’s cool watching the world’s best on the sort of waves most of us spend our time on—you see just how good those guys are when they pull something you didn’t think could be done on three-foot beachbreak.
The Nike U.S. Open of Surfing kicks off on Saturday, July 28, and will wrap up on Sunday, August 5. Full event schedule and webcast are at usopenofsurfing.com.
Last year the entire world’s (outside of South Africa) eyes were opened to the perfection of Willard’s beach laying just off the shore of Ballito along the KwaZulu Natal North Coast (or Dolphin Coast) in South Africa. Perfection. A dream right hander. Fast, hollow and powerful. Last year was a contest organizers, surfers and spectators dream; beautiful barrels flawlessly ridden by some of the top surfers on the planet, fighting each other for points, money and pride. In the end Jack’s team rider Patrick Gudauskas ruled the tube and claimed the top of the podium (and $40,000) as his own.
But that was last year, the secrets out now. Everyone knows how good the wave is and getting it with only a couple other guys combined with a chance to win $40,000 at this ASP Prime Event has attracted many of the world’s best surfers. But Pat is always up for a challenge and is definitely one of the favorites heading into this week’s contest. His skills riding the barrel combined with the confidence coming from last year’s victory put his name near the top of the short list of possible winners for the 2012 contest. The other Jack’s Surfboards team rider joining Pat Gudauskas in Ballito is Pat’s brother Tanner Gudauskas. The Gudauskas brothers should cause havoc in their respective draws and are a major threat in every heat they are involved in.
Mr Price Pro 2011 - Day 5 - 8 July 2011
The 2012 Mr. Price Pro Ballito will be ran from July 2 through July 8 in Ballito South Africa. The forecast looks small starting off the contest waiting period but hopefully will pick up through the week at the main contest location of Willard’s Beach. Willard’s likes a southwest swell and a low tide and we can only hope it turns on like it did last year as the beach came to life delivering barrel after barrel after barrel. The contest can be watched live at www.mrpricepro.com. Make sure you watch as the action should be hot. Check back here for more information and event wrap ups following the contest. Let’s go Pat! Back to back (plus $40,000 is nice but $80,000 is even nicer).