There's a new alpha male in the storied Florence family!
The Oahu surfer Nathan Florence, brother of US Olympian John John, has officially spiked the Jan Brady curse and become the alpha male of the Florence squad, which also includes little brother Ivan.
Florence, who is twenty-nine and whose couronne of red hair is masked by the bleaching effects of sun, has leveraged his big-wave skills and a deft touch on social media to become the world’s most talked about surfer over the past twelve months.
First, a wave some big-wave surfers called the “best barrel ever” at a remote Irish reef last November, the swell generated by the remnants of Hurricane Martin.
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“When riding the lightning all comes together!” said Nathan Florence. “One of the rides of me life, thanks all local boys for having me in their beautiful land and inspiring always to send!”
Compliments were quick to follow.
Mark Healey, no stranger to oversized waves, wrote, “You may have my two favourite backhand tube ride ever.”
From WSL commentator Strider Wasilewski, “Best heavy wave surfer in the world.”
Pipe Pro runner-up Seth Moniz, “Best Barrel ever.”
Florence’s brother, John John, older by two years was quick to collar tie the middle bro of the Florence triumvirate, writing with a masterfully droll wit, “Could’ve been deeper.”
A few months later, the sexy powerlifter turned Only Fans star who has a face like a benevolent sea turtle, was almost paralysed after a wipeout during a a twenty-foot day at Jaws. The force of the wave snapped a vertebrae in his spine. Florence credited his regime of deadlifts for saving him from a life in a chair.
“I got picked up and I fell through the barrel. I fell a lot longer than I thought,” said Florence. “After the initial impact, I got sucked up and fell again. As I was falling, I was pulling my vest. I just fell a lot farther than I thought and my body was in a weird position. I just slammed on my back on the bottom of the barrel, which is just hard water. Right when I slammed, I just felt kind of a snap in my lower back, right on my spine.”
Anyway, a wild ol year for Florence, who rarely missed a slab or ledge session whether it was in Hawaii, Australia, Scotland or Ireland.
And his diligence was rewarded last night when he was awarded Ride of the Year and Surfer of the Year at the Big Wave Challenge awards in Nazaré, Portugal.
In the gals, it was all France’s queen of big-wave surfing Justine Dupont, the first woman to surf mythical outer-reef Belharra. Justine’s ride of the year came at the famed Cortes outer bank.
BIG WAVE CHALLENGE WINNERS
SURFER OF THE YEAR
Men – Nathan Florence (Hawaii)
Women – Justine Dupont (France)
RIDE OF THE YEAR
Men – Nathan Florence at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland. Video by João Tudella
Women – Justine Dupont at Cortes Bank. Video by Johnny Decesare & Tucker Wooding
Men – Chacha Ibarra at Punta Lobos, Chile. Video by Oscar Fredes Rodrigues & Rodrigo Farias.
Women – Laura Enever at Outer Reef Oahu. Video by Ian Grose, photo by Daniel Russo.
Men – (TIE)
Nic Von Rupp at Nazaré, video by Tim Bonython
Shaun Walsh at Jaws, video by Carlo Carbajal. Photo by Fred Pompermayer
Women – Justine Dupont at Cortes Bank, video by Johnny Decesare. Photo by Frank Quirarte.
WIPEOUT OF THE YEAR
Danny Griffiths at Shipstern Bluff. Video by Talon Clemow
Ned Hart (Australia)
VIDEOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Tim Bonython (Australia)
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SPORT
Big Wave Tour founder Gary Linden
Nazaré Mayor Walter Chicharro