Florence claims second straight world title

John John Florence competes in the fourth round Monday. World Surf League DAMIEN POULLENOT photo

The Maui News

Oahu’s John John Florence won his second consecutive World Surf League Championship Tour title Monday and finished as runner-up at the Billabong Pipe Masters at the Banzai Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore.

Florence became a two-time world champion when he won his quarterfinal heat against Australia’s Julian Wilson, 17.60-2.64, and Brazil’s Gabriel Medina lost to France’s Jeremy Flores 12.76-6.04 a heat later. Florence had entered this season-ending event with a 3,100-point lead over Medina in the world tour standings.

“It’s been my dream to win here at home,” Florence said. “There’s been a nervous build up to this event and I just don’t know what to say, I’m shaking. So many people have been here for me this year and it’s been awesome. It’s been an awesome year and I’m just so stoked.”

Florence went on to edge Brazilian Ian Gouveia 12.56-12.33 in the semifinals before falling to Flores in a close battle for the Pipe Masters title, 16.23-16.16.

John John Florence of Oahu poses with his trophy after clinching the World Surf League Championship Tour title for the second year in a row Monday. World Surf League / KELLY CESTARI photo

Florence, the first Hawaii champion since Kauai’s Andy Irons (2003-05), is the first male surfer to repeat as world champion since 11-time champ Kelly Slater also went back-to-back in 2010 and 2011.

While he had just one win on the championship tour this season — at the Margaret River Pro — Florence finished no worse than equal-fifth in the nine events that were counted toward his point total.

The Pipe Masters was also the last jewel in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Griffin Colapinto became the first Californian to win the Triple Crown, having finished runner-up in the Hawaiian Pro and reaching the Vans World Cup final.