John John Florence’s success secures his hold at World No. 1, which he has maintained since winning the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach earlier this year. The two-time WSL Champion, and now two-time event winner, increases his lead over the men’s field with event runner-up Andino in second (5,740 points behind) and Italo Ferreira (BRA) in third (6,595 points behind). This is Florence’s seventh CT victory and second this season after returning from a knee injury that kept him sidelined from a majority of the 2018 season.
“I’m super stoked to win in Margaret River again,” Florence said. “Brother (Kolohe Andino) was pushing me super hard in that heat and it was pretty nerve-racking in those last 12 minutes because it got really slow out there, so I knew I had to pick the perfect wave. Kolohe is scary to surf against in waves like this. That was our second Final out here and he is always such a threat.”
Florence now has three wins in West Australia after today with the first being in 2012 when the event was on the Qualifying Series and a CT win in 2017. The 26-year-old has a close affinity with the South West of Western Australia as evidenced with his iconic free-surfing sections and has used the array of powerful waves to produce some of surfing’s most mind-boggling video parts of the last decade.
“I really love coming here to Margaret River,” continued Florence. “It really reminds me of home in Hawaii. There are so many different waves and lots of power and it’s just a beautiful place to come. I’ve always enjoyed coming here since the first time I competed here when it was a Qualifying Series event and I’m stoked to be back. I can’t even believe where I am at this point of the year, it’s pretty crazy for me. There was a lot of mental and physical stuff to go through after the injury so I’m just stoked to be back surfing and competing.”
Unlike fellow Californian Peterson, Andino fell short of clinching victory at Margaret River. In what was the fifth CT Finals appearance of his career and second for 2019, Andino went wave-for-wave with good friend Florence until the last few minutes when Florence used priority and posted a near perfect 9.50 to put Andino out of the running. Although Andino’s maiden CT victory will continue to elude him, he has consolidated the second spot on the Jeep Rankings and puts himself firmly in the World Title conversation for 2019.
“There is no one I’d rather lose to than John (Florence) because I look up to him and his surfing so much,” Andino said. “When the waves get harder and bigger and windier like this John John is always the hardest guy to beat. As we all saw he was demolishing Main Break this week and then obviously won at Bells when it got really big and windy, so he is definitely the guy to beat when it gets like this. I was happy to share another Final with him and am happy to continue this awesome start to the year for me. It’s funny because I guess John is sitting in the No. 1 spot and I’m at No. 2 and we are heading to Brasil and staying together so that will be really fun.”