The final of the Vans World Cup of Surfing was a tubefest, with John John Florence emerging from the barreling rights victorious. The 19-year-old, North Shore native is now the overall Vans Triple Crown of Surfing leader going into the final jewel.
"It was just peaks out there and it was changing all day," said Florence of the conditions on the last day of competition at Sunset. "It's been going back and forth from the inside bowl to the deep peak to the inside bowl to the middle peak."
"I've seen bigger for sure and more treacherous and challenging, but this [final at Sunset Beach] was the most exciting without a doubt. We had the best surf of the whole day for the final," said Vans Triple Crown Executive Director Randy Rarick of the six to eight-foot surf during the 30-minute final.
The wind switched offshore in the afternoon and quality double-overhead barrels poured through for the final. Florence was the in-form surfer all day long and appeared to have the tricky Sunset lineup wired. A critical equipment change before the quarterfinals proved the deal breaker.
"I had my 6'8" and it felt a little bit big and a little bit catchy on the little ones on the inside bowl so I switched it up and I got out my 6'6" and it ended up working," he explained.
The final wasn't a walk in the park for Florence, who won the second jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing with a two-wave total of 17 out of possible 20 points.
Powerful Tahitian Michel Bourez applied pressure from the onset, perhaps drawing inspiration from a higher source. "The conditions were pumping and it was six-foot barrels and wasn't scary at all. It was perfect for Sunset. I've never seen Sunset like that and I'm just happy to be here," said Bourez, who never seems to have a bad word to say about anything. "My friend, Malik Joyeux, died six years ago [surfing Pipeline] on the second of December , so it was for him I surfed today."
Finishing behind Bourez was Australia's Adam Meiling, who espite finishing third at Sunset, now sits in second place overall in the 2011 Triple Crown ratings. But more than that, Melling's career hangs in the balance on the ASP's World Rankings.
"This is going to help," he smiled afterward. "I guess it still comes down to Pipe and what people do there, but this helps a lot."
Although Hank Gaskell finished the event in fourth place, the regular-footer from Hana, Maui, was awarded the Triple Crown wildcard into the Billabong Pipe Masters for his performance. "The semi and the final were the best two heats I had the whole contest," said Gaskell, who is ranked seventh overall for the Triple Crown. "It's really hollow on the inside bowl and hats off to John John, he's one of the best barrel riders in the world so I'm not ashamed to lose to him."
The circus now moves about a mile west, to the Banzai Reef, home of the 2011 Billabong Pipeline Masters. It would appear Hawaii's saving the best for last.
1. John John Florence (HAW) 17.00pts, $40,000
2. Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.30pts, $20,000
3. Adam Melling (AUS) 11.96pts, $12,000
4. Hank Gaskell (HAW) 11.53pts, $10,000
HEAT 1 : Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.03pts ; Adam Melling (AUS) 8.00 ; Olamana Eleogram (HAW) 7.60pts ; Dusty Payne (HAW) 4.60pts
HEAT 2 : John John Florence (HAW) 18.40pts ; Hank Gaskell (HAW) 14.50pts ; Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.57pts ; Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.77pts
HEAT 1 : Adam Melling (AUS) 12.86pts ; Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.33pts ; Evan Valiere (HAW) 7.16pts ; Nat Young (USA) 7.16pts
HEAT 2 : Olamana Eleogram (HAW) 17.83pts ; Dusty Payne (HAW) 17.50pts ; Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.16pts ; Travis Logie (ZAF) 6.16pts
HEAT3 : Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.77pts ; Hank Gaskell (HAW) 11.67pts ; CJ Hobgood (USA) 11.50pts ; Joel Centeio (HAW) 4.87pts
HEAT 4 : Adrien Buchan (AUS) 14.84 ; John John Florence (HAW) 14.23pts ; Ian Walsh (HAW) 13.37pts ; Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 9.43pts
ROUND OF 36
HEAT 1 : Evan Valiere (HAW) 12.53pts ; Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.40pts ; Jesse Mendes (BRA) 6.57 ; Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 6.50pts
HEAT 2 : Adam Melling (AUS) 14.84pts ; Dusty Payne (HAW) 9.97pts ; Heath Joske (AUS) 6.50pts ; Josh Kerr (AUS) 6.23pts
HEAT 3 : Olamana Eleogram (HAW) 12.90pts ; Michel Bourez (PYF) 8.47pts ; Kai Otton (AUS) 7.40pts ; Kieren Perrow (AUS) 5.10pts
HEAT 4 : Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.23pts ; Nat Young (USA) 10.77pts ; Evan Geiselman (USA) 8.30pts ; Taj Burrow (AUS) 6.94pts
HEAT 5 : CJ Hobgood (USA) 12.27pts ; Ian Walsh (HAW) 9.50pts ; Dane Gudauskas (USA) 8.66 ; Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 3.10pts
HEAT 6 : Joel Centeio (HAW) 13.54pts ; Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.03pts ; Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.50pts ; Tonino Benson (HAW) 7.14pts
HEAT 7 : Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.26pts ; Hank Gaskell (HAW) 10.27pts ; Chris Davidson (AUS) 8.63 ; Sunny Garcia (HAW) 7.96pts
HEAT 8 : John John Florence (HAW) 16.33pts ; Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.83pts ; Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 11.67pts ; Dane Reynolds (USA) 9.83pts