Less than eight weeks ago, Florence lost in similar fashion here to 11X world champion Kelly Slater during the Pipe Masters. Today's victory seemed to realign the trajectory of the 19-year-old, who appears at this moment in time to be destined for one of pro surfing's greatest careers of all-time.
"I wrote myself off half way through," said Florence. "Kai and Jamie both had nines. I can't believe it. Here at Pipe anything can happen.
"With 40 seconds to go I wasn't even thinking about it. I was like, yeah Jamie, congratulations, I won last year and I'm stoked for you. Then I turned around and there'ss a peak. I didn't even know if he was going. I was going to go left and backdoor the peak, then I ended up having to fade, go right, and barely got under it. It was a wild ride.
"Last year this gave me so much confidence going into the year. This is the first contest of the year and I've got confidence again. So much has gone down in the last year, qualifying for the tour, changing my whole way of surfing and trying to get into the contest thing. I'm so happy right now."
n, I feel like you just threw me out of the car before we got home," said O'Brien. "I'm going to come and steal that trophy from you in the middle of the night," he laughed.