Back in July John John Florence announced that he would be pulling out of the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
With his coach Ross Williams watching from shore, Florence was training for the Uluwatu CT (after being eliminated in Round 3 of the Corona Bali Protected) when he tore his ACL.
He's been sidelined ever since.
Despite his absence for the majority of the 2018 Championship Tour (CT), there was hopeful speculation that he would return for the last event - the Billabong Pipe Masters. Located in his backyard, Florence has an undeniable affinity with Pipe and is largely considered the best surfer in the world when it comes to the heavy reef break.
Unfortunately for surf fans everywhere, the 2x World Champ announced this week that he will not be making a return this month.
"I'm close to 100% but I'm not there yet," announced Florence via Instagram on Wednesday. "The Pipe Masters is my favorite event on Tour so it's a really difficult decision but I'm going to withdraw."
We caught up with the Champ after his announcement for an update on his current state and when he plans on returning to the Tour:
The World Surf League: How is your knee feeling?
John John Florence: My knee is feeling great and I have just started surfing again. When I am in very low positions (backside barrel riding) and surfing smaller waves I still get some pain behind the knee, which makes me hesitant in some moves. As we all know, Pipeline is a very dangerous wave with a lot of power and unpredictable sections. I don't want to put myself in a position where I am pushing to win a heat and it takes precedent over protecting my knee.
What has the recovery process looked like?
These last several months I have been doing a mixture of things to get back in the water as soon as possible. I've worked a lot with Mark Kozuki, Chris Prosser, Terry Romine and Warren Kramer. And for physical therapy, I've been doing gymnastics, Redcord, and some DNS movements, as well as acupuncture, laser therapy, and infrared sauna. The goal was to strengthen the muscles around my knee and strengthen my core at the same time. By doing this, my core and other muscles can handle most of the load while my knee is healing.
When can we expect to see you back in the jersey?
I would say I am in the last stages of healing and I'm hoping to be back 100% in the next couple of months.
Watch the Billabong Pipe Masters and final event of the 2018 season live on Worldsurfleague.com, App and Facebook December 08 - 20.