Coco Ho has a whole new quiver, under a new company that also bears her name. Photo: XO COCO

Coco Ho has a whole new quiver, under a new company that also bears her name. Photo: XO COCO

The Inertia

XO COCO is a new surfboard brand masterminded by Championship Tour veteran Coco Ho and Matt Parker of Album Surf. The premise is simple: They make boards with stock dimensions designed specifically for women.

Part of the brilliance of the concept is how much the idea seems obvious in retrospect. Though the demographics of surfing are diversifying every year, it’s still an industry that has long been dominated by men. The majority of surfers are men, as are most of the shapers making boards for them. As such, surfboard design is inherently catered towards the dimensions that work best for male bodies. For a woman looking through boards in her local surf shop, the “stock” dimensions for the “average” surfer might not actually be ideally suited for her – or even designed with her in mind at all.

That’s where XO COCO comes in. That same woman surfer exploring the fledgling brand’s website or storefront in San Clemente (right next to Album) will find a huge variety of alternative and conventional craft with stock dimensions that are actually designed to help them surf as well as possible.

With that in mind, I reached out to Coco to learn more about how the brand came to life and what she has in store for the future.

How did you come up with the idea of shaping surfboards specifically for women?

Truly it was Matt Parker’s loop in the system, because I’ve been getting custom boards my whole life.

I did notice a lot of girls would ask me in the water where to get boards from. If they were my size, I’d be like, “Oh, I have trade-ins” or “…Lost sells my trade-ins,” and I’d redirect them that way. But when girls weren’t my size, I was like, “Truly, I don’t know what board to recommend you.” I did know that a lot of stock boards were too wide for females, especially fishes and [other alternative shapes]. A male’s fish is like 20″ wide, you know. A girl can’t really be whipping that around without digging rail.

The boards also happen to have some pretty great resin art. Photo: Letitia Younger // XO COCO

The boards also happen to have some pretty great resin art. Photo: Letitia Younger//XO COCO

What are the differences between surfboards shaped for men and for women?

Definitely width is a huge one. The female’s average foot size is a lot smaller than the male’s. That’s what causes people to dig rail, a board that’s too wide. [A narrower board] brings a quickness to your transitions and turns, especially on shortboards, to be able to go from turn to turn a lot quicker. If you have too much width, that gets in the way.

Width, thickness and fin placement, really.

You’ve also mentioned that you’re seeking to employ women at every stage of the surfboard building process. What form is that taking?

Just launching brought a lot of eyes to it and a lot of women reached out immediately. Just really cool people started writing and making themselves known. I think that’s the most beautiful part about it is learning. There’s so many women in the industry, but you don’t know really.

Just having a space for them to all come if they want. We have a few shapers, there’s laminators, there’s machinists, there’s fin setters. There’s the whole deal. So it’s just having a space for them.

You’ve worked with Matt Biolos for so long throughout your career. What was the experience like working with a new shaper?

Matt Biolos is pretty much a father figure to me at this point. I’ve known him for at least 20 years or more. He was just really supportive in the process. He’s a businessman himself, so he definitely showed me his business model and wanted me to be super aware of how gnarly the board industry is.

He was giving me really good advice about the business side of things. It’s just really about being continuously creative and loving the craft and not expecting numbers or anything right away. It’s really about spreading the love of surfing and the rest will follow.

Are you looking at doing any collaborations with other shapers, maybe something with Biolos?

Yeah, I would love to. That’s definitely my first goal and dream is to do something with Matt and just to pay homage to him. Everyone knows he’s such a big part of my life and my surfing career. He even made a funny joke. He was like, “Well, now, you’ll be paying me!”

It’ll be great. We’ll get there one day, for sure.

Coco hasn't taken up shaping, but we might see a planer in her hand soon. Photo: XO COCO

Coco hasn’t taken up shaping, but we might see a planer in her hand soon. Photo: XO COCO

Have you taken up a planer?

No, I actually haven’t. I need to. I mean, I grew up around it. I’ve known about rockers and stuff since I was like 12 years old, so I’m not oblivious to what goes into our surfboards, but I’ve never shaped for myself.

But it sounds like you want to give it a try, maybe?

Yeah, for sure. I’m always down to learn. I definitely don’t like sucking at things, so I don’t know if I’ll let anyone try my board that I made.

You’ve excelled at surfing for so long, It must be tough to go into the deep end at something that you might not might not already be an expert at.

Might be real bad at. Yeah, it sounds scary, but I’m going to have to get my hands dirty for sure.

Since you started the whole endeavor of making surfboards and creating this business, has it given you a new perspective on surfing?

Definitely. I mean, just equipment, like I said, it keeps you young. It keeps you inspired. Now, truly, I have a board for every condition.

I’m sitting here on the beach watching Sunset Point and, after being on tour and being such a high performance surfer, you look at maybe a kind of boring wave and, with my new quiver, anything looks fun.

That’s like the biggest takeaway from all the boards in the line is that there’s something for everyone and there’s something for every condition.

It sounds like you’ve been really experimenting with alternative shapes a lot. What have you been riding lately?

I’ve been riding pretty much everything, but I think the most fun I’ve had is definitely on long twins. I’ve been riding bigger twin-fins in bigger waves and I was shocked at how fun it was. So, now I have a whole Sunset quiver of real big boards that are twin-fins.

That’s been the most exciting for me this winter. I still ride a thruster in waves of consequence. Like, Backdoor and Rangiroa, I was definitely on like an average thruster, barrel board.

Of the boards in your line, that’d be the Halcyon, right? The long twin.

Yeah, the Halcyon has been my ultimate favorite lately. You can kind of play around with that one as well, at different lengths. The one I was riding at pretty big Haleiwa was like 6’4″. We’ve even made a little 6’0″ version. Just seeing all those waves at Kirra and Snapper right now, I’m like “Damn, how fun would that be on my six-oh long twin!”

So I’m just like looking at all these different swells and stuff with a new eye.

If a woman is on your website looking for a board, is there any advice that you’d have for what to look for?

I think everyone’s so trained now to think that wider and shorter is the way when, like I was explaining earlier, width is actually what causes a lot of problems in people’s surfing. I think my best advice would be to not be scared of a little bit narrower and then compensating with thicker. Your experience could be a night and day difference, especially if you’re trying to turn and make quick transitions.

I think just changing it back to the narrower and thicker instead of wider and thinner.

Coco doing what she does best. Photo: XO COCO

Coco doing what she does best. Photo: XO COCO

The women’s CT has gotten so much attention lately, it’s kind of great timing for this.


Do you have any thoughts on how it seems like the women’s CT is changing, even since you started?

Yeah, I think obviously equipment is way better and just girls are really dialed in on equipment and training and opportunities.

Then [that goes] hand-in-hand with better waves and equality, like we’re not always running when it’s onshore in the afternoon, now. So there’s a lot of positives happening right now. It’s all happening right before our eyes.

It happened subtly in my generation, 10 years ago, and it’s happened 20 years ago, you know, when Rochelle and them started surfing Backdoor. It happens in increments all the time and right now it’s just one of those increments that’s really big and in your face. So it’s awesome.

That’s kind of the funny thing, isn’t it? People are like, “Women’s surfing is having a moment,” but it’s always been there.

Yeah, it ebbs and flows for sure, but it’s beautiful to see the recognition it’s getting right now. And yeah, it’s definitely really fun to have a women’s board brand right now.

The next chapter for Coco Ho is shaping up to be pretty bright. Photo: XO COCO

The next chapter for Coco Ho is shaping up to be pretty bright. Photo: XO COCO

What’s your next big goal in the future, either for the company or personally?

Personally, I just want to continue to experiment and push my surfing on these new boards. Just keeping busy and putting out fun surf footage and building the brand, getting involved in big decisions. Kind of just growing up, actually, has been the goal.

Growing up how?

Just taking the next step of my life and being more involved in the business side of things, getting to help others instead of being the one handed everything. It’s been fun.


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