"Is Caio Ibelli John John Florence's Kryptonite?" That was the question WSL Commentator and 1989 World Champion Martin Potter posed before Florence and Ibelli met in the Semifinals of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Going into that heat Ibelli had a 2-1 record over Florence, which he soon extended to three. Given that the Brazilian has been on Tour for just over 12 months, it is an incredible record to have against the world's top-ranked surfer.
"It's a good little thing we have got going on," Florence said after his loss at Bells. "He got me here last year, in similar circumstances, so congrats to him. He's been surfing great all week and he's done well against me the last few times."
However, the 2016 Rookie of the Year is wary of mentioning his record against Florence. "I don't want to talk about John John, because I know he could watch and then the day he gets one over me, he's gonna talk," he told the WSL, through bouts of laughter. "I don't want to get a needle and start poking him. I don't want to see the worst of him."
John John isn't known for intimidation or physical bullying of his opponents. He doesn't do paddle battles, pre-heat verbals, in-heat leash-pulls or post-heat dressing-downs. When he is surfing as well as he is, he doesn't have to. Ibelli is right, though, not to prod the bear. John John's worst is actually surfing at his best. And no one, not even Ibelli with his record, wants to surf against that.