This is about as frank of a conversation on Tour life and competition as you're likely to see elite athletes have in a public forum. "On The Process" is a new elegantly-simple film from John John Florence and his team, featuring one of the most electric surfers of a generation, Jordy Smith.
Florence and Smith sit down at the beach in what looks to be Sydney, Australia -- indicating it may have been filmed around the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona -- and have a heart-to-heart on why they compete, what frustrates and inspires them, and even their views on rivals such as Gabriel Medina -- arguably the most dominant surfer on Tour today.
When the clip was filmed is significant. Since the Australian leg of the Championship Tour, Florence and Smith have both suffered injuries that have taken them away from competition, and in Smith's case, prevented him from representing South Africa at the recent Olympic Games.
Put in the context of these injury setbacks, the candor of their conversation is even more poignant. It's clear they have a long-established relationship which no doubt stretches back to Florence's time on team O'Neill -- Smith's long-time sponsor -- and was strengthened through the years together on the road, traveling the world for Tour events.
Among the topics they discuss is making the leap from the Qualifying Series to the CT.
"I came in so overly confident, and so under prepared," Smith admits of his rookie year in 2008.
They also go deep on the peculiarities of judging, and the sometimes-cruel role luck plays in elite-level competitive surfing. Florence used an example which sums up what for him is sometimes a frustration -- that you could make the hardest drop of you life on a huge wave at somewhere like Teahupoo, and it would only be a mid-range score if the barrel itself wasn't especially long -- the difficulty-to-reward ratio can at times feel off.
"I've lost heats doing every single thing right, and the guy has beaten me doing all [of them] wrong," Jordy notes.
They even touch on their Tour rivals, from Medina to the 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater.
"Gabriel for example, he's like ... it seems like he doesn't care in between events, almost, and then he just shows up and he's just ... going," says Florence of Medina.
"You just see nothing of the guy, no clips, nothing, no work really, and then all of a sudden it's in the heat," says Smith.
While on Slater, there is agreement on the insurmountable height at which he's set the bar.
"If he wins twelve, the reality is nobody cares. Eleven, twelve, thirteen, it's all so crazy and on such another level," Smith says. "It's nowhere near achievable and especially not the way the sport is now, the way surfing is right now the gap is so much closer between number 32 in the world and number 1 than what it was back then."
This is likely two of the athletes who have pushed the sport forward, like you've never seen them before.