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    UPDATED: 1.47am, 27th August , 2012 (Tahiti time)

The Expert Rookie - John Florence

26 August 2012 Posted in Interviews Surfers

By Mike Jennings

A two minute drive back down the road from Teahupoo is local legend Raimana Van Bastolaer's place. Boards and jet-skis litter a yard that fronts the ocean. On the back deck sits Raimana, Jeremy Flores who is staying there for the length of the Billabong Pro, and John John Florence who is staying a couple of doors down. It's been a long couple of lay days, almost a week since John John cruised through his round 1 heat and he is about to do a sit down interview with Channel 9's Wide World of Sports. While they set up on a jetty that runs off the property, John kindly takes a moment to chat to Coastalwatch about being the expert rookie of Teahupoo.

CW: You've been to Chopes a lot in the past, can you tell us about how familiar you are with the neighbourhood?

JF: Yeah I've been here a bunch. I've been coming here since I was pretty little and it's like the closest kind of thing to home. For me and my brothers, it's such a short flight and we come down here for swells all the time, and then we have Raimana taking care of us and he's like the king down here and definitely the best guy to surf Chopes with. So I dunno, it's essentially like feeling at home you know. Just pretty comfortable here.

When was the first time you came?

The first time I came I think I was like 11 or 12 or something like that. And I think it got big one day and I towed one evening, and that was about it. But I've been coming down since then two or three or four times a year. Just whenever there's a swell, it's so close to Hawaii.

Does it intimidate you anymore, or are you too comfortable with it these days?

No it's intimidating every time you surf out there for sure you know. It's got the west bowl and every wave feels like… I don't know… taking off on the wave your heart's just beating really hard, and then you've just got to make that drop and then it's one of the most perfect waves in the world. It's like a machine, it bends down the channel, it's crazy.

Has it been pretty disappointing with this swell? You've been here so many times in such good waves and then for your first comp here…

Yeah it's my first comp here and it's actually been hard to get into that contest mode because I've been down here so much and every time I've been down here it's for a freesurf. I actually had a pretty fun heat and just kind of treated it like the surfing I like to do, it's fun you know. You're not thinking about the contest, you're not thinking about the heat, you're just having fun out there. And then so it's been pretty flat the whole last week and a half, they've been holding the contest off but it's kind of a hard place to complain about. There's nothing too bad about it, it's beautiful the water's warm, the air's warm, it's sunny almost everyday and it's not dead flat – you go back to Hawaii right now, that'll be dead flat.

What have you been doing?

Kind of everything.... 

Read the full interview at CoastalWatch.com