Heavy squalls, mechanical breakdowns and fun waves from Hawaii to Fiji.

What does John John Florence do when he’s not in full-blown training mode or competing in one of surfing’s premiere events? Oftentimes he can be found touring around the Hawaiian Islands on his sailboat. This summer, however, John decided to up the ante by hitting the high seas and setting sail to Fiji.

Several months and thousands of miles into his trip to the remote Pacific and Fiji Islands, we checked in with John John for some insight into the highs and lows of the journey so far plus what’s coming up for him next.

“A huge part of the learning experience is how to break the issues down and approach them with a good problem-solving mindset.” —John John Florence

John, how has life on the open ocean been treating you?

Life on the ocean has been great! Lots of life-learning experiences. Lots of ups and downs [laughs].

Can you break down some of the details? Where exactly are you going, what stops will you make?

Well, we are in Fiji, we stopped in the Phoenix Islands on the way down which was pretty incredible. It felt very remote. 1000 miles to the nearest city. Now we have just been spending time here in Fiji, sailing around the islands.

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What’s the total distance?

The total distance to Fiji was about 3,200 miles. Then we sailed another 500-700 miles around here.

How long will the entire trip last?

The trip will be about 3-4 months in total.

How’s the weather been? Any crazy storms or flat spells?

The trip down to Fiji was frustrating, with unpredictable weather. We had a couple heavy squalls that made me pretty nervous. Then, right when we got to Fiji it just went flat [laughs]! Well, for the first two weeks at least. Since then, we have had some pretty fun waves. All that said, we’re having a great time!

What's the go-to meal on the boat? What food do you miss?

I miss pizza! But overall, we eat pretty well on the boat. Similar to what I eat at home.

How about breaks and repairs? How many mechanical issues have you tackled?

So many!! That’s been a huge part of the learning experience is how to break the issues down and approach them with a good problem-solving mindset.

What have been your 3 most important tools onboard?

Well, after the first leg of the trip I realized we needed better tools. So, since we have been here in Fiji, we have upgraded our tool set. I’m really happy with this little multi-tool set I have in my daily tool bag. I think I use it at least once a day. Also, I got a good set of stainless Allen keys.

Those first waves you got in Fiji looked incredible. Has the mission provided much in the way of waves?

Yes, I have had some really fun waves since we have been down here! Lots of off time between the swells but when they come it’s been really good.

Let’s shift gears (gutters?) and talk about your new film Gravity. What are some of the high-level details: like when was it shot, where did you surf in it and what makes it special in your eyes?

Well, it was shot all last winter just on the North Shore. We had a great season with lots of nonstop swells! They were really good size swells for Pipe, Haleiwa and Sunset.

What do you hope people think, feel and do after they watch Gravity?

I just hope it gets people excited about surfing and makes them want to go out!

Looking back on the film and the process of creating it, what was the most memorable clip or moment captured for you and why?

The most memorable for me was probably one of the Waimea clips, that session kind of came out of nowhere and it ended up being really big. It’s such a fun wave when it’s like that!

Outside of this massive sailing endeavor and dropping another piece of surf cinema, what’s up next in the life of John?

Well, I want to continue the sailing adventures and keep the boat moving around the world in between the tour. So, I hope to keep doing that. I’m also excited to get into contest mode for next year. I should be going home end of October and getting into a 3-month training camp so that will be a lot of fun.