We’ve been waiting years for this. Kelly and A.I, Curren and Occy… the list goes on. These rivalries made the sport what it is today, but this one has the potential to be the greatest of all. These two young men are nothing shy of dynamic in the water, and they’ve both been standouts ever since they were groms. They’re about the same age, so the rivalry could consume the Tour for the next decade or so if things go well. One surfer even has a World Title already. In case you haven’t caught on or somehow missed what happened in the Semifinals of the Billabong Pro Tahiti yesterday, I’m talking about John John Florence and Gabriel Medina. Now sitting 1st and 3rd (respectively) on the Jeep Leaderboard, Florence and Medina traded haymakers in the heat, with Gabriel posting a 10, but John edged him out by a count of 19.66 and 19.33 in the end. Let those numbers sink in for a second.
Both John John and Gabby first hit the Tour with huge expectations. Medina got off to a quick start, going so far as to win two contests during his rookie season and finished in the top 12. Florence took a little longer to adjust to the big leagues, but it’s always been clear that he’s one of the most talented surfers we’ve ever seen. Hell, you can find footage of him surfing at eight years old on YouTube. John came into the 2016 season with a coach. He seems to be more focused than ever and the results are evident. Medina looks locked as well, and suddenly the year of Wilko appears to be a distant image in the rearview mirror.
The pair will head to Trestles next, and both have the ability to win that contest. That’s the amazing thing about both of these youngsters; they can win in any conditions. They both boast a tight air game, knifing carves, and an elite tube-riding ability. With John John being 23 years old and Gabriel 22, there’s no limit to how amazing this rivalry could become. We got the first iconic moment of it in Tahiti, and we may look back on that contest to where it all began.