There is a lot of buzz around Kolohe Andino. There has been for a long time. He is an almost-World-Tour-rookie, surf royalty scion, the top of the new school class and mainland America’s great white hope in competitive surfing. He’s also 17. I gave him a call a few weeks ago at 10:00 AM HST, during the height of competition on the North Shore. The following interview is about what it’s like being a son, a pro surfer, an unabashed competitor, and a young guy trying to figure things out.
So where are you staying?
I’m staying at off the Target house near Off The Wall. Target bought a house three or four years ago out here. It’s the most I could ever ask for, the most I could ever have… the most I ever have had. Doing well over here is huge for someone’s career, so I’ve got to say thanks to them as well. They only have two surf riders so they also have a house a house for Carissa. She keeps some boards in the garage here are well, though.
Is it just you in the house?
There are a couple guys here working for Target. The team manager, JD Johnson, and a guy on the business end named Troy Michels. Then my Dad is here with me and my friend, Jeremy. My dad travels with me most places. If he’s not traveling with me, I’m with my coach, Mike Parsons.
Do you get tired of traveling with chaperones?
Not really. They help me a lot with my competitions, my surfing, and heat strategy. I think I’m at that age when I want to get my own identity and do some things on my own, but they both help me with a lot. To be honest, I think without my dad or Snips it (traveling) would be kind of a shocker. I watched a lot of guys try to do it on their own and it was difficult for them.
You’ve been sponsored in one way or another since you were seven. Does your life ever start to feel like a job?
No. Right now it doesn’t feel like a job. Right now I’m in Hawaii. Even when it’s small I I still surf three times a day. If you are mobile (have a car) on the North shore you can always find a wave. But sometimes different things feel like jobs, like lifestyle photo shoots — those are the worst. I’m not a model and I don’t know how to be a good lifestyle guy. On-camera interviews are also hard. In interviews like this you just kind of get my voice, but on camera you see my eyes wandering, looking around for the answer. You can tell I’m more confused. Really, text message would be easiest way to do interviews because you have a lot time to make yourself sound smart.”
Do you watch your own interviews?
I totally watch and read my own interviews. I don’t really like watching them because no matter what I feel like I do badly.
Would you call yourself media-savvy?
Ever since I was young I have always been into style and the way people think of you is your style. I’ve always wanted to be thought of as a nice, hardworking kid. I always try to be thankful too. I look at interviews as opportunities, places to say “thanks” and express my feelings.
What’s the question you hate the most?
The pressure question is the worst because they think my dad pressures me and they want me to have pressure. They even say: “how do you deal with the pressure?” I don’t have any pressure. Or here is another one: “So you must have a lot of pressure from your parents.” I don’t, I never have. I surf for a living and I love what I do.
What’s the North Shore like for you?
I’ve never rode super heavy waves here. The first time I came I was two months old, but I came to really surf here a couple years ago and became more familiar with it. Now it’s safe to say I’m back at stage one. I probably thought the waves I surfed were bigger than they actually were when I was younger.
How do you approach your surfing when the waves are heavy and the crowds are tight?
You have to have the right mindset: be super aggressive but not too aggressive and don’t disrespect the locals. Last year I got one good wave. I waited four hours and someone gave me a good wave.