The sad news began streaming across the wire last night: Hawaiian icon Derek Ho was in a coma in a hospital on Oahu. Then, later Friday evening, it was announced by family that the legendary Pipeline surfer had passed away at 55 following a heart attack.
Ho was larger than life in his native Hawaii, capturing four Triple Crown titles in the late eighties and early nineties before winning the Pipe Masters and World Title in 1993 at 29 when many thought he was done. His world title was huge, but his Triple Crown feats cemented his legend. “Derek’s most memorable moment at Pipe occurred in 1986, when he pulled into an eight-second tube that spit twice on him,” reads the Triple Crown website. “He set the bar for extraordinary Pipe surfing. If you ask young Hawaiian pro surfers how they want to win the Billabong Pipe Masters and Vans Triple Crown of surfing they’ll say: ‘Like Uncle Derek did in ‘86.'”
Legend never die 😔💔 RIP uncle D. Real soldier of the good vibes. Soldier of the sea. Love you guys. I will remember this vibe always pic.twitter.com/M3kbVai8ML
— Jeremy Flores (@floresjeremy) July 18, 2020
Tributes came from all corners of social media. “The man. The myth. The legend,” wrote Kala Alexander on Instagram. “Our hero. Words can never express what this man stood for and meant to all of us growing up here in Hawaii. From the first time I surfed #Sunset and #Pipeline 38 years ago until now #UncleD was always on the best waves and dominating. He always surfed more than anyone. Always so psyched. More psyched to surf than anyone I have ever met. Only #UncleMike and #Mason came close.”
The dedicated family man was still catching bombs at Pipe well into his 50s – an inspiration to those who knew him and the surfing world in general.
RIP Derek Ho.