- WSL / Kelly Cestari

If we weren't a couple months out from the prospective start of the upcoming Championship Tour, the big news in Nathan Florence's latest YouTube drop is the fact that he's waxing up a fresh Mayhem rather than the typical Pyzel shape that we're used to seeing him on. But as the fabulous Florence brothers partake in "Camp Carve," the power and flow of John John's rail game can't be ignored.

Surfing playful shoulder- to head-high peaks in the Pupukea zone, John's got plenty of extra spice in his snaps and carves.

"Three to the beach says coach Ross Williams," joked John in an Insta post the other day.

What he's not joking about are his preparations for his return to competition when the Championship Tour kicks off again. For all intents and purposes, the 2019 World Title was John's to lose when he blew out his knee in Brazil. He was wearing the yellow leader's jersey and well out in front of the field. But the John we're seeing right now appears to be surfing even better.

There's no hesitancy in his turns and he's linking maneuvers more seamlessly than ever. He's quietly been doing his thing on the North Shore, putting in the work, and it clearly shows in his comfort in the water and ability to flip the switch from his cool and casual style to full-on destructive power hacks. He's always had a strong rail game, but in the average, work-a-day conditions, he's upped the level a few notches. The arcs are tighter and there's more back-foot push through his carves.

What we're seeing is a fully healed, fully refocused John. Like most every other surfer on Tour, the pandemic provided him with a much-desired opportunity to finally hit pause and take a breath at home. Given the hectic pressure that two world titles and back-to-back knee injuries bring, he's been able to decompress and rebuild himself into a surfer that already looks like he could contend for a World Title. Coming out of this break in the action expect to see a newly invigorated John.

Of course, we haven't seen him in a jersey for almost a year, but that probably doesn't matter much. John's pure talent has always superseded his competitive savvy. It's what makes him so many people's favorite surfer.

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