US Olympic surfers Griffin Colapinto, John John Florence keeping close eye on Tahiti swell during WSL event

The World Surf League (WSL) finds itself in Tahiti, French Polynesia, this week as their global tour with the top surfers in the world continues with the SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro event. 

However, for Griffin Colapinto, who sits atop the Championship Tour rankings, and John John Florence, the legendary surfer who is just behind Colapinto in third, their minds are not much focused on winning this week’s WSL event. 

Tahiti is the destination for this year’s Olympic surfing competition, and both Colapinto and Florence will be representing the United States in the men’s division. 

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For Colapinto, this will be the first time he is representing his country, as the 25-year-old from San Clemente, California, finished second in the world rankings last year. 

He told Fox News Digital that he was trying not to think about the Olympics too much, as he does not want to create any expectations leading into it. However, since he is competing in Tahiti this week, he is certainly focused on the waves and breaks he will be facing months down the road. 

“I think every time you get experience to surf this wave, it’s really important [to take note]. It’s a really tricky break, so the more time you have out there, the better,” he said. “A lot of the locals have an advantage out there. So, pretty much any time I get a good wave or have a good session, it just gives me more confidence. I think the more time you can spend here, the better.”

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Colapinto explained how the reef in Teahupo’o is “split in two,” which can create some wicked breaks if surfers do not anticipate them. 

“There’s like a first ledge and a second ledge,” he explained. “When the waves are smaller, they break on the first ledge. But when they’re bigger, it goes out to the second ledge. It’s like you almost have to surf both sizes to learn the waves, so it’s a lot of time that needs to be put in because you’re positioning of where you take off depends on the size of the swell. So, it has so many different looks. That’s probably why the experience helps so much.”

Florence is experienced when it comes to the Olympics, having finished ninth in his first time representing the U.S. in 2021 in Japan. 

He explained how he loves using recorded notes, almost like a journal, to remind himself of what equipment he loves to use in certain waters. That will definitely be done in Tahiti this week. 

“For my little video notes that I do, I take a step back at the end of the session and it’s like, ‘OK, I rode these fins, this board, this, this and this and that worked well.’ For me, it’s so helpful to look back a year or two later and go, ‘Oh, that’s right. I was riding those fins. That was really good. Maybe I’ll go back and try that for that wave again.’ That will be a big one here with the equipment side of things, kinda noting down what’s been working, especially if we get some swell,” he said. 

Florence is riding high this week in Tahiti as he and his wife, Lauryn, welcomed their first child – a son named Darwin. He noted it was “definitely tough leaving home” before heading over to Tahiti, but now that he is back in “event mode,” he is focused on having the best runs he can to move up those rankings in the WSL. 

Colapinto and Florence will be enemies in the water in terms of wanting to walk away with victory before heading to Morocco. 

However, they will be teammates the next time they touch these waters, where they will certainly be sharing what they learned to hopefully come away with some hardware for the U.S. this summer. 

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