Jon and John John
Jon Pyzel dials us in on what J ohn John is riding to defend his world title.
Jon Pyzel has been John Florence’s shaper since JJ was five. On Pyzel’s craft, John John has won The Eddie plus the World Title and flown high enough to enjoy the view from a blue moon.
John John’s imperious performance on this year’s Australian leg had fans asking more questions about what he was riding. When we got in touch with Jon Pyzel he was enjoying a late season swell out the front of his home at Rocky Point on the North Shore. Between sessions, he took time out to fill us in on how John John’s boards have evolved.
What was John John riding at Snapper?
JJ is about 6’1’’ and 79-80kg. His stance is pretty narrow, so he tends to like boards a bit narrower than most guys his height.
The Snapper board was a new shortboard that he named the “Voyager 1”. It was a board that I had made for some of my other team riders, but that he had never tried. Between the Volcom Pipe Pro and Snapper, I made him a batch of six shortboards that he had never tried, kind of like a blind taste test, and the favourite of the bunch was that
one. It is his new favourite all-around shortboard right now. It was 6’0’’ x 18.65 x 2.31 and just over 26 litres.
Has much changed in his short board design since he became world champ?
He basically rode one design all last year, The Bastard, and it got him a title, but it wasn’t always the best board for the job at hand. I remember watching his France semi against Keanu Asing in weak, shoulder high lefts, and seeing him on his Bastard and knowing it wasn’t the best board he could be on (with too much rocker for those waves). He lost a heat to a kid that he should have just smoked! It’s still one of his all time favourite boards in good waves, but we just took a look at where his equipment was lacking, where we could help improve his overall performance in less than great surf. He is super into anything that can help him get better, and it is great for me, because it gives me the chance to use my knowledge to add to his ability … I love being able to throw stuff at him and see how it works.
It looks like the narrower nose allows the boards to swing through turns more quickly with a kind of switch-
blade effect? That gives his surfing an added degree of agility and a real point of difference?
His Voyager 1 nose measures out at 11.75’’ at the 12’’ from the nose mark. But… I would say that his penchant for thinner rails, lower volume, narrower overall widths, and more rocker would be the things that have set him apart in that sense. Beyond the actual design of the boards, those details can help to accentuate the “switch blade effect”!
Is there anything else about the shortboards John is riding that is distinctive or different to his peers? Seems like he sticks to PU?
PU for sure, as is the case with most of the top 34. I think that all the top guys are riding semi-similar boards, but if anything is really different for John I would say lower volume and thinner rails. He also has a weird thing about the deck curve at about a foot back from the nose. It’s because he lands a lot of airs with his foot that far forward, so he looks at that as an area that really can make or break a board for him.
Is it still the case that you can actually
ride a lot of his boards to get a gauge on their performance?
I like to ride his boards whenever I can. I’m 5’9’’, 72.5 kilos and 48 years old, and my everyday board is a 5’8’’, so his boards are not perfect for me, but I can still at least get a feel for what they are doing. It allows me to have a better idea of the basics, and hopefully lets me build better stuff down the road.
You mentioned that John jumped on a couple of Ross Williams’ boards and liked the feel of the extra volume?
He rode a 29-litre board and was amazed by how easy it was to maintain speed, but also felt the limitations that come with all that extra foam.
We are working to add volume, but slowly and carefully. He’s a very good judge of surfboards, so I don’t try to overwhelm him with huge changes.
When a consumer buys a John John model, how modified is it from the original file John would be riding?
You are gonna get what he is riding, but with just a touch more foam in the rails, because his rails are not super user friendly. My stock boards all come in a bit bigger dimensions, but the designs are the same as his boards.
Can you break down the measurements of the Ghost model John John was riding in WA, and Big Bells when he did the alley-oop?
Sure – it was a 6’2’’ x 18.75 x 2.50 x 29.20 litres. Nose width at 12’ was 12.06’’. Tail at 12’’ was 13.50’’ It’s a chopped nose version of my Next Step model, with flatter entry rocker and plenty of tail curve.
That board looked like it had a lot of thickness forward, combined with a relatively narrow nose.
The nose is almost 1/4” thicker than the tail (not a common thing in shortboards), and doesn’t seem that narrow to me.
It looked like it had the capacity to decisively cut through whatever was in its path – foam, froth or chop?
I think a lot of guys’ boards; when they go up in length and thickness, tend to get really chunky in the rails and sometimes through the tail as well. The Ghost (even stock) has a very refined rail for it’s thickness, and I really keep the rear half of the board thinned out to handle speed and bumps. A finer rail will cut through bumpy water without as much push-back, allowing you to hold the rail without getting bucked off. Also rocker plays a huge role in reducing pressure through turns, with the same effect.
John’s surfing in WA was heralded as some of the best seen in a contest. It must be satisfying to watch when you are responsible for the craft…
I loved watching every one of his waves in that event, particularly at big Main Break on the final day when he was just flowing. I knew exactly what he was thinking out there: ‘This is just like big
Pupukea Beach Park, at home’. You could feel his stoke and his comfort level. He was having a blast, and I felt it. I think everyone felt it! So knowing that I had a little hand in that moment in surfing was really special to me, and personally satisfying. I did see a few problems, times when the nose dug in a bit too much, where we could adjust some rocker and maybe tweak the outline a touch to make the next one better.
In the past we have seen Kelly lead the trends in design? It seems like this year more pros and punters are really starting to pay closer attention to what John John is riding?
I think if you are really into surfing, you always want to look at what the best guys are riding, and hopefully people are looking at his boards and thinking they are working well. The main change I hope to see this year is his boards working really well everywhere, and him taking the opportunity to choose the right equipment for the conditions.
Left: The third Jon in the equation – shaper, Jon Pyzel.
Main: John John filleting a WA section on his 6’2” Ghost model.