It's been a damn good year for John John Florence. After clinching an emotional win at The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau at huge Waimea Bay, then battling from behind this season to clinch his first World Title, a little rest seems well earned.
But Florence won't be sipping any champagne out of his new trophy yet, because there's one more meaningful Title he's got his heart set on: Pipe Master.
Pipeline is John John's backyard. Growing up, when his mom yelled at him to go outside and play, he walked across the sand to Pipe. And he's been doing it since he was little. Today, it's his wave. Nobody parts Pipe's thick crowd like John, and he's widely believed to be the best surfer in the world at Pipeline today. Four Volcom Pipe Pro wins would seem to back that up. But as sweet as each of those victories were for Florence, none of them carry the same weight of the Pipe Masters, the final Championship Tour event of the season.
Florence has been competing in the event since 2008, yet in those eight appearances he's managed to make the Finals just once. In John's 2013 clash with Kelly Slater, King Kelly, the 7x Pipe Master decided he wasn't ready to hand over the torch yet. Slater remains undefeated against John John during elimination rounds at Pipeline, with a 4-0 record.
John's had two disappointing Pipe Masters results since then. In 2014 he finished in 5th; in 2015, 9th. So there's little doubt he wants to get his groove back this year. And one would have to think he'd be begging for another Finals rematch with Kelly Slater just to put a little icing on this year's cake.