I’ll be the first to admit that I did not see this coming.
In my France write-up, I went so far as to guarantee that the title would be decided at Pipeline. Which is exactly the reason I’m a writer and not a mathematician. As it turned out, Gabby’s Round 3 loss put John in a position to win the title in Portugal, given he made the final. And make the final he did!
While the collective surfing community can let out a sigh of relief for its chosen one — Two Johns — who has finally realized his destiny, I can’t help but feel his maiden world title came in a way that was slightly… anti-climactic.
First of all, for most of us in America, the whole ordeal went down in the middle of the night. That means that you either had to set a 3 AM alarm (east coast) or stay up unreasonably late on a weeknight (California). The one upside was that Hawaii got to watch their prodigal son at a reasonable hour. Speaking of Hawaii, John was supposed to win the title on his home soil — preferably at Second Reef Pipe — not in weird, windy Portugal. He even alluded to this in his post-win interview, stating, “I was kind of expecting it to go down in Hawaii, so I just told myself I was gonna keep surfing through heats and stuff. I’m kinda still stuck in that mode.” And lastly, what the hell happened to Gabby? These two should have duked it out til the bitter end, possibly with a head-to-head final duel at the Pipe Masters, but instead Gabby loses to Jeremy Flores in long lefthanders. Something is askew!
But I won’t have my selfish fantasies override John’s amazing feat. The truth is, a world title is won over the course of a year, with small victories and losses that come to define a season. To expect a photo finish is unrealistic and disrespectful to the work John has put in over the last year. We all know he’s the best surfer in the world; now he’s got the trophy to prove it.
So congrats, John. Now let’s get that elusive Pipe Masters trophy, yeah?