John John Florence may not have won the Billabong Pro Tahiti yesterday, as many expected him to, but he went home with the contest's other most coveted honor, the Andy Irons Most Committed Performance Award, for the second time in his career.
The honor was created in memory of the late surfer from Kauai, whose performances in Tahiti were legendary. The first year the award was given to Jeremy Flores for his own brand of legendary tube-riding, during the code red swell of 2011. In 2012, Brazilian charger Ricardo dos Santos won the A.I. award. Dos Santos was tragically murdered outside his home not long after, but his influence in surfing still reverberates.
Florence won the award himself in 2013, followed by Owen Wright, CJ Hobgood, and Kelly Slater. This year, however, was again Florence's time to shine. He ended up bowing out of the Billabong Pro long before anyone expected, at the hands of new World No. 1 Jordy Smith. But Florence, who's a favorite to win the event, didn't go quietly. Before losing to Smith, he pulled off a series of 9-point rides in Round Three (his 9.70 is above), making the most of mid-scale, tricky conditions.
Florence's win was a fitting tribute to Hawaii, and a reminder that he may not be No. 1 right now, but his connection with the ocean is unwavering.