The 2017 Billabong Pipe Masters was in the bag for John John Florence as the final seconds approached during his championship heat against France’s Jeremy Flores. But then suddenly, Flores began paddling. It finally arrived: The perfect wave.
With under 15 seconds remaining, the heat’s final wave approached and Flores, needing to best Florence’s 16.16 total after surfing a 7.90 on his first wave, saw his opportunity on the horizon at Banzai Pipeline.
“I think until the sound of the end of the heat, I think there’s always a shot,” Flores said. “I’ve learned that over the years - never give up.
Flores’ patience paid off as he won his second career Pipe Masters after defeating No. 2 ranked Gabriel Medina in the quarterfinals and Florence (No. 1) in the final, scoring a 8.33 to beat Florence by 0.07 points.
“The last wave came, I tried to do my best on it and got the score. That’s a dream finish for me,” Flores said. “It’s kind of like a natural feeling. I try not to think so much; I try just to ride waves and see where that takes me. I think surfing is all about feelings, and I think it worked out for me that way.”
Medina said after the the final scores were announced that he felt bad for beating Medina and Florence, saying how it should’ve been a showdown of the world’s top two surfers.
"Are you kidding?" Flores said during his the trophy ceremony. "Winning the Pipe Masters in the final seconds against John John Florence? I couldn't think of any better way to win. These guys are next level.
Nevertheless, he let his emotions do most of the talking in the aftermath of his upset victory.
“It was exciting. It was a little bit stressful, but it was exciting because either way, it was a good final; it was a good battle,” he said. “Obviously, I was hoping to get the score and obviously when I did it was definitely the highlight of my life.”
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