Kolohe Andino

"Last year I got one good wave in Hawaii," said Kolohe Andino. "I waited four hours and someone gave me a good wave." Photo: ASP/Kirstin

The Inertia

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.

1 2

  • bert

    Sounds good, the kid is great, Florence, Medina, Andino and Wilson, four great kids ready to give us good surf the entire season. 

  • Chris_Fauxte

    With all that’s in front of this kid, they can’t get him his GED?  Really hope he doesn’t blow a knee…  I can only imagine the sort of math and reading he’s so fond of.

  • LarryKelp

    Good you like math and reading.  Especially reading.   Southern california beach culture is anti-academic, its not cool to read.  Don’t let that influence you, keep reading…if you miss college, you miss a lot.

    • Al Baydough

      Sheesh! Another guy pumping the academic line yet absolutely butchering his grammar and sentence structure?!? WTF?!? You and G8tunes are not doing academia any favors.

       My only beef with the kid is that the overwhelming majority of his sponsorship $$$ comes from corporations that are leeching off of the surf image and had nothing to do with the creation of the sport – just trophy wives looking for the shiny car and a boob job who will jump to the next big thing at the first signs of rust. College may have helped Andino to better understand why these are bad decisions to be making. Hell, I remember when his father had to have his menus read to him, so what do I expect.

      • LarryKelp

        still, a lot of people don’t go to college anyway.    the book, “Millionaire Next Store” says that if you want to make money, get started early, and don’t go to college.  Nothing wrong with being rich AND having the ability to ride 20 foot barrels.  If you do get rich off surfing, you can’t be that stupid to begin with, and you also get to…go surfing.  I was just impressed that he liked to read while in the center of southern california beach culture which has never supported that.

  • G8tunes

    Surfers or any other athlete, shouldn’t turn pro until they graduate with a repular diploma.

    • Al Baydough

      Your grammar doesn’t do a very good job of validating your point (which isn’t a bad one, though).

    • Al Baydough

      Your grammar doesn’t do a very good job of validating your point (which isn’t a bad one, though).

    • Aj

      Not all must graduate with a diploma etc, as the person #wolfspider said school is not for everyone, some people have difficulty learning in that aspect. Don’t be so harsh on this boy, his doing what he wants let him live his dream.

  • Chris_Fauxte

    Michelle Wie went to Stanford while playing golf.  Kolohe went to home school and apparently couldn’t even get that done.  A good job indeed.

  • Matthew Carter

    Kolohe- Follow your dreams and continue to rise above and beyond the naysayers…

    You are an intelligent individual with an amazing family and a ton of friends in your corner.

    All the best in your future endeavors.

    Matthew Carter

  • wolfspider

    That is the worst thing that could ever happen GR8 tunes. School is not for everyone you know. This is coming from a teacher too. good on you kolohe

  • wolfspider

    That is the worst thing that could ever happen GR8 tunes. School is not for everyone you know. This is coming from a teacher too. good on you kolohe

  • bert

    I can’t understand why it should be a problem for Kolohe not to go to school, in a country where GW Bush was president during 8 years…

    • bert

      Down here in France, where we’re ready to give lessons to the whole world, we have J Flores as an example. He is a pro surfer since he’s a child, and I guess he didn’t have time to go to school regularely… He is a very good surfer, and even though I don’t know him, what I read or hear make me think he is an average smart guy, not an idiot for sure…But if you check his website, you can notice he is not that good in english…and he is not that good in french either…It couldbe frightening to think of a kid without a lot of vocabulary and a total disdain for syntax and grammatical rules…But look, the kid is travelling around the world and will see plenty of places, 99% of them I can only dream of. He is able to earn in a day what I earn in a year, even though I’m a lawyer since more than 15 years now…Who’s winning here? The same for Andino. As Mr Baydough said, Kolohe’s father was barely able to read his menu in a restaurant, but it didn’t prevent him from raising his family and here is his son today, who just have to find the guy who was able to read a menu…(a friend of the family, now, I guess…)

      The only trouble is to give those kids as example. They’re no examples, they are exceptions! Most of those kids who aren’t going to school in order to fulfill their dreams (or better, their parents’ dreams) will end up as drop out, with sad stories to tell…Look at all those pathetic ex professionals trying to sell us their videos or their “funny websites”…Raising a kid in order to make him a winning machine, or anything else that is really special and exclusive is really dangerous. For one Flores or Andino, you have plenty of sad stories.

      • David Plumb

        Wow,  Bert way to be realistic!
        I don’t see a career for you ever doing commentary on anything within the surf industries!
        As this is a  new media site  I have to ask why we are stuck with old school articles?
        This type of interview was appropriate when it was the school kid who ripped and won comps,  down the carpark after a session .
        Writers would be better off asking the sponsors of these modern wonders  to send you their prepared answers in reply to your previously submitted questions.

        • Blasphemy Rottmouth

          +1 for Dave Plumb!

  • Tim Hamby

    How much is common sense worth? Chris made a great point. Getting a GED at bear minimum is clearly critical, but that doesn’t seem to have been lost on Kolohe and his dad. Hopefully he’s got some disability and performance insurance, as well. One thing- he sure seems well-grounded which is half the battle in life and a strong reflection on his family/coaches and people he’s chosen to surround himself with. 

    Agree 100% with Bert’s assessment on surfing’s exciting future. Those guys are coming along at the most opportune time with Dane leaving, Kelly getting older, the tour facing the economic headwinds of the global economy, etc. As phenomenal as that entire group is, I think Andino may be the very best. He lays it on a rail every bit as smooth and powerfully as his pop always did and his airs are incredible- done with conviction and authority Not sure what his big-wave surfing is like, but sounds like he’s continuing to develop it further. Bet his dad is proud, as he should be.

    • Al Baydough

      Nothing against the kid but he has zero creativity and none of the X factor that separates Slater, AI, Jordy, Dane, and all the other wunderkinds that have peppered surfing’s performance history. He telegraphs too much; exactly what you’d expect from someone who has been over-coached.

      • Tim Hamby

        No way. http://vimeo.com/34768142 It takes a high degree of creativity and spontaneity just to navigate your way through crowds like this, let alone blow up every open face and launch the kinds of airs he does. His X-factors are a love of competition and an ideal combination of style, flow (and power for his age), along with super progressive aerial skills. Like Mick, Joel and Adriano- but with the aerial skills to match his most progressive peers. Slater and AI are in a class by themselves. Dane’s unique (and off the tour). Jordy’s excellent, but even he is going to have his hands full.

        • Al Baydough

          He grew up surfing Lowers so of course he would be expert at maneuvering thru crowds.

           And those aren’t X-Factors. He isn’t a creative surfer, he’s just figured out how to make a formula out of everything that has come before him and he telegraphs it like an over-rehearsed ensemble. He’s young, we’ll see if he can develop into something other than the perfect contest machine. His father, in his prime, was more spontaneous.

          • The Roller

            The folks at Nike must have just a bit more experience and success at evaluating professional athletes like Kolohe than most message board commentators.  Else they would not have offered him a massive, long term contract!

            Capitalism 2.0.

          • Chris_Fauxte

            actually, his contract wasn’t all that long term.  He just went through it again and was wooed hard by Billabong.  Smart move to stay with Nike given Billy’s financial position.

          • Al Baydough

            Whatever. People far more qualified than yourself tend to agree with me when assessing Andino’s lines. Look at the footage of Slater, Horan, Potter, Curren, Smith, Reynolds, AI, W. Lynch and the other freaks when they were 17 and you’ll see them reinventing the form. They had spontaneity, Kolohe has a very well rehearsed formula. Andino will be successful, no doubt. But he has yet to prove he has that innovative mind that puts the elite in a class by themselves. Crosses all the “t’s,” dots all the “i’s.” Can he go Shakespeare? Time will tell.

             Nike likes the package, just like every other fake-titted gold-digger. No surprise your parasitic ass is in their corner.


          • The Roller

            not in anyone’s corner, Al, just clarifying a few known facts that you’ve overlooked.

          • Al Baydough

            Do you play dumb for my amusement or your own?

          • Blasphemy Rottmouth

            I agree completely with Al on every comment. Talented? Yes. But he’s America’s version of Owen Wright. Over-coached is an understatement.

            And unfortunately Al, The Roller is not playing dumb…

          • The Roller

            You are right.  I am quite unlike old rottkamp,..

             who not only doesn’t surf, but is up in here playing like he’s surfing version of a Nancy Grace!…http://vimeo.com/14326600BOOYAH!

          • http://www.facebook.com/nick.dee.351 Nick Dee

            what a retarded comment. Owen Wright overcoached? how can the best goofy tuberider on the planet, who can toy with Pipe, be overcoached?

          • The Roller

            Al, BKS – Bob Kelly Slater beast most people  in contests because he falls off far less than they do. 

            Lets make another age comparison…. hasn’t BKs  been drawing the same lines since he was 16?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGhdxntvW_I

          • Eric


  • Eric

    “Surfing for a living” at 17.  Hmm, I can see why Kolohe doesn’t have and has never had any pressure.  Because he’s probably never known anything else.  Multi-million dollar contracts don’t fall into the laps of kids at what 15, 16 in his case? without a well-designed plan, singular focus and sacrifice.  It’s easy to love surfing for a living when you’re talented and banking like he is.  

    Truth is, very few pro surfers are all that interesting.  Kolohe seems no exception in interviews yet I’ll reserve judgment because he’s only 17.  One thing’s for certain, he skipped one of the most important learning experiences in life..school.  No, not just academics but the social aspect.  Some might say a small sacrifice.  There’s a cost to breeding a contest machine.  You just might get yourself a robot.  I hope that’s not the case long term.

    As for his surfing?  I like it.  He’s an incredible competitive surfer.  Technically precise and an insanely talented aerialist.  Yet his approach doesn’t seem all that spontaneous.  The result of coaching the artist maybe?  I’m looking forward to seeing him carve something bigger and match the power of more than a Lowers slope with style.  Now that he’s on tour, we’ll hopefully get to see that. 

    Good luck Kolohe, if you’re reading, don’t be a robot.     

Join The Inertia Family 

Only the best. We promise.