|ESPN.com: Surfing||[Print without images]|
It's been a good 12 months for John Florence, and it appears to only be getting better. Long discussed rumors of Florence's addition to Hurley's already well-stocked team were confirmed on Jan. 8 when the Nike-owned surf brand released official word that they'd inked a five-year agreement with the young Hawaiian.
"John John is the most innovative surfer in the world," said Hurley's VP of Sports Marketing Pat O'Conell in a follow-up conversation. "At Hurley our focus is innovation, taking everything we do to the next level, and John John exemplifies that. We want him to come in and kick the tires, try the trunks, tell us how we can all push the sport forward. We're exited about that opportunity."
20-year-old Florence had ridden for former sponsor O'Neill since the age of six. In 2012, his first full year on the ASP World Tour, he won the Billabong Pro Brazil and was in the running for a world title until the second to last event of the year, ultimately finishing fourth in the world. Before he was done with his teenage years Florence was the owner of a Triple Crown title, three wins at Pipe, an ASP world tour win, a runner-up at the Surfer Poll and invites to two of the world's most prestigious big-wave events. The sum of the new sponsorship package remains undisclosed, but the consensus among rumors is that is it worth three to four million dollars annually, which would put him in the top one percent of earners in surf.
"I am very grateful and happy to be riding for Hurley, especially at this time of my life," said Florence in his prepared press statement. "To be able to start 2013 with a new team and good people will ultimately help to accomplish my goals I have set for the future. I am excited to be a part of such an innovative company and can't wait to see what happens in the years to come."
In December Nike's surfing program was folded into the Hurley label, adding some serious heft to the roster. Florence will share billing with Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino, Brett Simpson, Yadin Nicol and Carissa Moore, among others.
"We feel that everybody fits really well," says O'Connell when asked if the team was potentially too big. "They've all got their own things going on, and we're here to help support that. I don't think anybody is stepping on anybody else's toes. It's an exciting time and the pieces are really falling into place."
Hurley now sponsors nine out of the 34 surfers on the men's world tour (they had three last season). It shall be interesting to see how Bob and the boys play this hand.