For an island state considered to be the home of surfing, Hawaii has had to wait some time for its next men's world champion. Twelve years to be exact.

Not since the late Andy Irons won the title in 2004 have Hawaiians had a men's championship to celebrate. Since then the power has been shifted to Australia and the USA, before Brazil could claim to be the new leaders of the sport as Gabriel Medina and Adriano de Souza won the last two titles.

However when 24-year-old John John Florence took out the World Surf League event in Portugal on Tuesday, power returned to the sport's spiritual home.

Growing up less than a kilometre from the Banzai Pipeline where Irons returned triumphant in 2004, Florence developed the skills that this year made him world champion there on one of the toughest breaks in the world.

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Estranged from his father at a young age, he and his younger brothers were raised not only by his surfing mum Alex, but hordes of hopefuls who rented space on the floor of the family home as they took on the Hawaiian north shore.

Florence claims to have been put on his first board at six months, and spent most his childhood riding the famed break with the tenants of his family's home before the big guns came to town every winter.

"It inspired me," he once told Free Surf Magazine.

"Growing up and being able to see those guys surf Pipe and seeing the best surfers in the world come and surf my home breaks every day for the whole winter."

By six he had his first sponsorship, and at 13 he became the youngest person to compete in the Triple Crown of Surfing, prompting experts to label him the next Kelly Slater.

From there though, progress was slow.

He debuted on the world tour in 2011 and claimed his first event win in Rio in 2012 and until this year he had added just one other at France in 2014.

After finishing 2015 in 14th position, 2016 appeared to be headed in the same direction when he reached the quarters in just one of the three season-opening Australian legs.

Since then though, he has been Mr Consistent.

Despite Portugal's victory being just his second event win of the year, he has reached at least the semi-finals in five of his last seven events - including another win in Rio.

He showed his championship qualities in France, taking to the water less than two weeks after he tore ligaments in his knee in the Fiji final - desperate to ensure he didn't let his best shot at a title slip.

On Tuesday that paid off in spades, claiming the title in Portugal and in turn, becoming the first man to clinch the championship before the season-ending Pipeline Masters since Slater in 2011.

And it's there he will return come December, a far cry from a six-month-old on a board but perhaps ready to inspire the next batch of Hawaiian champions.