COURTESY OF QUIKSILVER
John John Florence won the Quiksilver King of the Groms Skins surfing contest yesterday at Kewalo Basin.
King of Groms Florence wins skins, money, trip
The 13-year-old North Shore surfer earns $1,000 and is headed to France for an event
It's surf lexicon for swell-hungry and sea-salt-caked wave rider, often 4-feet tall or less and no more than 15 years old.
King of the groms?
This year his name is John John Florence.
Complete with a king's crown, cloak and scepter, the 13-year-old North Shore surfer earned the designation yesterday by winning the Quiksilver King of the Groms Skins surfing event in solid 4- to 8-foot-face waves at Kewalo Basin.
Florence also earned an event-high $1,000 for his four skins in the one-day contest, and a trip to France later this summer to compete in the international King of the Groms.
"I really wanted to win this, and I'm so stoked I'm going to France," Florence said. Both the trip and the money "are great. And, I get to see how good everyone else is doing around the world."
Florence bested a field that included 54 other boys and five girls.
Unlike with the traditional scoring format, in which surfers are scored on their best two rides in a full heat as determined by the judges, the King of the Groms was a skins competition in which the surfers were forced to "claim" only a single ride in each 15-minute heat.
If the surfers felt they nabbed a good ride, they had
to raise their arms after the wave to make the claim, and their heat was over. Then, they would have to wait for the judges' actual score, and see if it would hold up to win the skin.
Two $100 bills were immediately given to each heat winner from the third round on, and $400 was on the line for the final skin. Though they didn't win any money, runner-up surfers in each of the heats before the finals moved on to the next round and still be eligible for later skins and the trip.
"I like putting the pressure on them," said Jack Shipley, one of the three judges. "And, they have to decide (on their best wave) out there (in the water)."
The pressure didn't get to Florence, as he took first place and the skins in three money rounds and then the final.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kiron Jabour went airborne after exploding off the lip of a wave in the finals yesterday.
Florence managed the highest single-wave score of the event -- a 9.20 out of 10 possible points for a clean right-handed barrel ride followed by two big forehand turns -- in winning his fourth-rounder. In the final, he won with a 5.70 he logged with less than a minute left in the lull-filled heat.
"No one had claimed a wave the whole heat, and I kept falling on my waves," said Florence of the final. "And I was like, 'Well, I just need one good one.' And I got (another) right."
Kiron Jabour was the only other surfer who managed to claim a wave in the four-grom final. He received a 4.20 for a ride that also came with less than a minute left, and settled for second place.
The 15-year-old North Shore surfer surfed a few other waves earlier in the heat, but like the others, held out hope that something better would come later and did not make a claim.
Because they did not claim any waves during the final, Carissa Moore and Ezekiel Lau were scored by the traditional format, with Moore's top two unclaimed rides scoring higher than Lau's and giving her third place.
Moore is 13 and an incoming freshman at Punahou School. She was the highest finisher among the girls and managed to help oust defending King Grom Albee Layer of Maui in the semifinals and took home a $200 skin for winning her third-round heat.
The 12-year-old Lau finished fourth overall, but took home three earlier skins and $600 -- second only to Florence.