Professional surfer John John Florence is a pretty handy sailor too. Picture: Darryl Oumi/Getty Images
Professional surfer John John Florence is a pretty handy sailor too. Picture: Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

World surfing champ expects tough times in Sydney to Hobart

TWO-time world surfing champion John John Florence is excited to compete in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race but also expecting some pretty miserable times.

Hawaiian Florence, who won titles in 2016 and 2017 but was injured for the second half the 2018 season, is a crew member aboard the 60-foot Winning Appliances.

The opportunity for Florence, who sails back home, was organised through leading Australian sailor Tom Slingsby.

"I was surfing up on the Gold Coast getting back into surfing because I just came off a knee injury and I was talking to Tom and he said, 'Hey, do you want to do the Sydney to Hobart?" Florence told AAP on Wednesday.

"I said, 'Yeah, that would be really cool, it would be a great experience.'"

He got me in touch with these guys and I'm really happy to be a part of this crew and this boat.

"I'm looking forward to the experience of it. I think it will be pretty miserable at times, but I'm pretty excited for the whole thing overall, just to be a part of it and to be learning from these guys is really cool.

"Just helping with whatever I can. I'll be sitting near the bow helping the bowman with stuff."

Winning Appliances skipper John Winning Jr was impressed by Florence.

"If it didn't work out for him in surfing, I think he'd be able to get a career in sailing," Winning said.

"He definitely pulls his weight and holds his own in the crew for sure."

Also starting the race, albeit just the first part of it, was former deputy leader of the Liberal Party and foreign minister Julie Bishop, aboard the all-female professional crewed 66-footer Wild Oats X.

She has been the ambassador for the boat and a mentor to the crew, according to skipper Stacey Jackson.

Bishop, who said she was both nervous and excited, is expected to jump off before they take the turn for Hobart.

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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