|John John Florence with a million dollar smile after signing a five year deal with Hurley|
The rumour mill had been grinding for months, starting as far back as September, that there were going to be big changes in the O'Neill surf team for 2013. The base of the rumors was that both Jordy Smith's and John John Florence's contracts were up for renewal and the $ figures were resembling phone numbers that included the area codes.
One of the rumors was that Kelly Slater, looking for an heir apparent at Quiksilver, was pushing for John John to join Quik, another was that Vans were going to step up and sign a 100% deal while a late comer to the rumor mill was Hurley. On the Jordy Smith front his name was being linked to Oakley with talk of a 100% deal but that could have slowed when they signed Bruce Irons and a yet to be confirmed World Championship Tour event in Bali around mid June of this year.
Florence, who had been riding for his former sponsor, O'Neill, since he was six years old, rode Jaws on the last day of 2012 on a sticker-less board and just over a week later put an end to the rumors when Hurley announced he'd joined their team.
Maybe the writing was on the wall back in November during the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Hale'iwa when Hurley management, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Evan Slater and former pro surfer and current VP of Sports Marketing Pat O'Connell were set up in the stands with the Florence camp. A group that included Florence's Mum Alex, brothers Nathan and Ivan and his longtime shaper Jon Pyzel.
|Jon Pyzel, Evan Slater, Alex Florence, Nathan Florence, Pat O'Connell and Sunny Garcia share a joke while watching John John in the final of the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, November 2012|
2012 was Florence's first full year on the ASP World Tour. He defeated Parko in the final of the Billabong Pro Brazil to become the first Hawaiian to win a WCT event since Andy Irons and was in the running for a world title until the O'Neill Cold Water Classic, the second last event of the year, before finally finishing fourth in the world.
|John John Florence smacking the top off one during the Reef Hawaiian Pro|
Florence turned 20 in October 2012 and as a teenager he had already racked up a Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title, three wins at Pipe that included a Backdoor Shootout win and two Volcom Pro wins, an ASP world tour victory, a runner-up at the Surfer Poll awards and invites to two of the world's most prestigious big-wave events; the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau and the Redbull Jaws, Paddle at Pe'ahi on Maui.
The dollar value of his new sponsorship package with Hurley was not announced with his signing, but solid rumors puts it's worth around 3.5 million dollars annually, which would put him in the top one percent of earners in surf and a deal worth somewhere in the $18 million range over five years. Pretty cool for a 20-year-old.