Not one to be overshadowed by the impending Slater vs. Fanning Clash of the Titans heat immediately following his own Round One opener, reigning World Champion John John Florence served notice that to beat the Champ, you have to knock the Champ out. Florence shipwrecked his competitors on what webcast analyst Peter Mel calls "Combo Island" with over 15 minutes to go in their heat.
Florence was on: The speed. The power. The progression. The flow. Serious flow. After the heat, Florence said that he and new coach Ross Williams didn't really concentrate on one specific element in preparation for the Quik Pro. But his linkage was especially buttery. "I feel better, the pressure is off," he said. "Now I can surf how I want."
Dear WSL Top 34, your World Champ has laid down the gauntlet.
To his credit, heat competitor Mikey Wright surfed like his trunks were on fire, and at times was the mirror reflection of his big brother, Owen, who later went on to win his own heat. Wright did what all wildcards must endeavor to do -- that is, look for punt-able ramps. He rescued himself with a 7.67 at the four-minute mark, but was undone after slipping off his full deck traction on multiple occasions.