Hawaii’s John John Florence created one of professional surfing’s most dramatic moments today to claim his second consecutive Volcom Pipe Pro title, completely flipping the table on former Pipe Pro champion Jamie O’Brien (Hawaii) in the final seconds.
O’Brien had held the lead for 34 minutes and 45 seconds of the 35-minute final… and then it evaporated before his eyes. O’Brien had bolted away at the start of the heat with an apparently insurmountable lead and Florence wasn’t even in the picture. O’Brien’s top two scoring waves were near-perfect: 9.0 and 9.43 with all three of his challengers requiring a combination of high scores to beat him.
Then at the five minute mark, two waves in the 8-10 foot range pushed through. Florence got the first: an unbelievable backside tube at Pipe that was deep, critical, and near-impossible. He blasted out with the spray and scored a perfect 10.
Right behind him, O’Brien swung, pulled in deep and blew out in front of Florence’s face for a 9.93 – further extending his lead. One minute to go… Florence paddled over and congratulated O’Brien. Then a dark line on the horizon caught his eye. One last wave stacked up on the Pipeline reef.
Fifteen seconds to go… Florence clawed his way past a frantic O’Brien who could see the writing on the wall of the wave. Florence clawed his way past Jamie, over the ledge, under the lip and into the heat-winning tube ride – a 9.93 – to claim the $20,000 first prize.
“I wrote myself off half way through,” said Florence. “Kai and Jamie both had nines. I can’t believe it. Here at Pipe anything can happen. “With 40 seconds to go I wasn’t even thinking about it. I was like, yeah Jamie, congratulations, I won last year and I’m stoked for you. Then I turned around and there’s a peak. I didn’t even know if he was going. I was going to go left and backdoor the peak, then I ended up having to fade, go right, and barely got under it. It was a wild ride. ”
RESULTS: FINAL 1st – John John Florence (HAW) 19.93pts, $20,000 2nd – Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 19.40pts, $10,000 3rd – Kai Barger (HAW) 18.20pts, $6,500 4th – Nathan Yeomans (CA, USA) 7.57pts, $5,500
SEMI FINALS H1: Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 17.77pts ; Kai Barger (HAW) 17.10pts ; Billy Kemper (HAW) 7.90pts ; Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 5.10pts
H2: John John Florence (HAW) 13.56pts ; Nathan Yeomans (USA) 12.83pts ; Bruce Irons (HAW) 12.40pts ; Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 7.44pts
QUARTERS H1: Billy Kemper (HAW) 12.00pts ; Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 11.87pts ; Tim Reyes (USA) 9.10pts ; Gabe Kling (USA) 6.63pts
H2 : Kai Barger (HAW) 14.66pts ; Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 14.50pts ; Flynn Novak (HAW) 10.83pts ; Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 3.63
H3 : Nathan Yeomans (USA) 13.27pts ; Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 12.50pts ; Carlos Munoz (CRI) 11.50pts ; Kalani Chapman (HAW) 4.77pts
H4: John John Florence (HAW) 16.34pts ; Bruce Irons (HAW) 13.00pts ; Alexander Grey (USA) 8.40pts ; Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 4.84pts