Words by Elliot Struck | All photos by Laserwolf

Progression is the realest thing and yesterday, John John Florence came sickeningly close to stomping a backside 540 in Hawaii. You’ll obviously remember that Kelly Slater recently pasted a frontside buck-fifty (one and a half!) spin in Portugal. And now John John’s stepped into the extra degrees conversation with a backside variation. A prince back in his own kingdom is a fine thing to see, and since John’s return to the North Shore, he’s been pushing all kinds of limits – as evidenced here. This sequence was captured yesterday by photographer Laserwolf, right out front of John’s house at Log Cabins. “He tried a few,” says Laserwolf. “The others were huge but not as clean and close as this one.”
John John has the best backside full rotation in the biz, so this is the obvious progression. This air, despite not being stomped, is incredible for a number of reasons. It’s the first of its kind to be really, properly attempted. It’s high! And, it’s crazy close to being landed.

The sequence is a lesson in technical perfection…
From the fourth frame to the seventh frame, John looks over his trailing shoulder, embracing the well-known theory that wherever you’re looking is wherever you’ll go. As John told Stab during filming for the Fly Me To The Moon series: “Wherever your head goes, your body’s gonna follow. Say you’re gonna try and do a backflip, you just put your head straight back. It’s crazy how you’ll just put you head back and then you’re backflipping already. And then if you turn your head to the side a little bit, you’ll do one of those side flip things. It’s crazy when you really start to think about it.”

In the sixth frame, John sucks the board up, so that he’ll better be able to release past 360 once he gets to it, kinda like winding up a spring. From the seventh frame onwards, his eyes don’t leave his landing – the fact that he’s controlled enough to concentrate on that, is wild in itself (like Kelly, John seems to have the quality of seeing the world, and surfing, at a slower pace than most, meaning he can process things a lot faster). Then of course there’s the fact he ain’t grabbing through all this but is still so controlled…
Clearly, we won’t have to wait long for the stomp.

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