• Star-Advertiser staff

Hometown crowd watches Florence advance


John John Florence made his highly anticipated debut in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing on Sunday, and although he didn’t win his four-man heat at the Hawaiian Pro, he placed second and advanced to the fourth round.

In choppy conditions, Florence hit the water in front of a large crowd waiting for his appearance at Alii Beach Park in his hometown of Haleiwa. The defending world champion is the World Surf League ratings leader heading into the tour’s final stop at Pipeline next month. He’s getting ready for that big one, where he will be trying to repeat by fending off No. 2 Jordy Smith, No. 3 Gabriel Medina and No. 4 Julian Wilson.

“This year with everything coming down to Pipe for the world title, it’s pretty interesting, puts that added pressure, but it’s fine,” Florence said. “I still have yet to win Pipe so I really want to do that. We’ll see what happens at the end of the year.”

Smith, meanwhile, won his third-round heat in this qualifying series event that is also the first leg of the Triple Crown. Medina and Wilson are skipping this QS event and are expected to arrive for the Triple Crown’s second event — the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach later this month, another QS contest.

Brazil’s William Cardoso, thanks to a win in his third-round heat, punched his ticket into next year’s world tour, something he had been trying to do for 12 years on the QS.

Hawaii’s Sebastian Zietz, Kiron Jabour and Joshua Moniz also moved on to the fourth round in the contest, which will resume today, conditions permitting.

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