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"step up or step aside" - Kelly Slater

John John Dominates Margaret River With Historic Performance

step up or step aside - Kelly Slater

The Rip Curl Bells Beach starts today, but the world (and the world tour) is still in shock from John John Florence’s performance last week at Margaret River. Main Break is notorious for being one of the most difficult waves in the world to surf well, and that point was proved time and again last week as the world’s best looked to be surfing…well, not quite at their best. The wonky, fat walls of Main Break simply don’t lend themselves to exciting, high-performance surfing, and more often than not leave competitors looking lost and uncoordinated.

step up or step aside - Kelly Slater

Unless those competitors are John John Florence, that is.

John John put on a clinic at Margaret River that still has his competitors reeling. Even Kelly Slater acknowledge John John’s mastery, stating, “I can assure you every surfer on tour is questioning either their talent or approach after watching that, and will all need to step up or step aside.” That’s a heavy statement from the greatest surfer of all time.

So just how dominant was John John’s performance? Well, numbers don’t lie, and the numbers from Margaret River were stratospheric. John John scored a “measly” 13.67 points in round one (more than enough to win the heat, by the way), but after that his heat totals were as follows: 19.27, 19.16, 18.04, 19.27, and 19.03. Not only does this mean that he scored a minimum of two 9.0 rides in every single heat after round one, but that his overall scored wave average was also over 9.0, with his average heat total coming in at an unmatched 18.07—the highest in history. (And that includes his “low-scoring” round one victory!) In other words, this was the most dominant performance in competitive history, at a wave that not many would have predicted as a strong point for John John. This event wasn’t about barrels or airs or new school trickery—it was all about old school power carves, but apparently John John has that going for him too.

Aside from John John’s performance, the big story on everyone’s lips was the boards he rode. And that makes sense, because when you see a performance that dominant, it’s only natural to look at the equipment that helped bring it about. John John was on his typical Pyzels, but they seemed to be a bit beefier and flatter in the rocker than his normal boards, which probably helped in the slopey, tricky walls of Margaret River. Gone are the anorexic, glass slipper days of the 1990s—today’s boards have junk in the trunk, and that’s what you want under foot when it comes to putting a board on rail.

But let’s be honest here—it probably didn’t matter what John John was riding. He could have been out there on an ironing board and still won, because right now, John John is the best all-around surfer in the world. Put him in small points, big reefs, rippable beach breaks, dredging barrels, or macking Waimea Bay—it doesn’t matter what the ocean is doing, because John John has proven himself to be the man in all conditions. Don’t believe me? Go check the video we pasted below. 

step up or step aside - Kelly Slater