Chatting to Coco Ho

Interview by Sam Haddad, photos by Jim Russi

While the elite of surfing girls is currently battling it out on the Basque coast of France, we’ve got an interview from last year with one of the risings stars for you: Coco Ho. Following in the footsteps of her legendary father and uncle, she was named Rookie of the Year 2009 on her ASP World Tour debut. We caught up with her for a chat last summer



When did you start surfing?
When I was seven or eight.

How was it growing up with your father as a local legend?
I didn’t know how famous he was until I started hearing his name on the loudspeakers during the Triple Crown and seeing him on “Past Champs”. I just remember running around the events seeing which uncles would give me a dollar to go buy cookies and candies, haha.

Do you ever feel the pressure of living up to his standards?
Dad never forced Mason my brother or myself to do anything in surfing. We had to drag him to come watch us. Now he knows we’re serious about it he’s all for it! I feel I’ve done a good job so far keeping him proud and happy. As long as I keep having fun with it, he’ll be happy.

Did you always like contests?
I have always been competitive in everything I do, which is typical when you grow up with an older brother, but I never really liked contests growing up. I liked the socialising aspect but not the rest, but then once I started getting results and accolades I started to love it. And to this day a lot of my excitement for competing comes from the attention we all get, the support from fans and sponsors, and the thrill itself.

Why are there so many strong young Hawaiian girls coming through at this moment in time?
I guess you could say we all grew up competing against each other so we are continuously pushing each other’s levels. When I would compete against the likes Alana Blanchard and Carissa I would push myself harder. Now here we are today on the World Tour doing the same thing!

How did it feel to be named 2009 Rookie of the year?
It was the biggest honour, a once and a lifetime opportunity. I was the last seed to join the 2009 Women’s World Tour and to be a part of the most talented field of rookies including Sally Fitzgibbons, Bruna Schmitz, Paige Hareb, and Alana Blanchard was going to be a massive challenge. To finish ahead of all of them and be in contention for the World Title in my rookie year just gives me a lot of confidence for the years to come!

What are your hopes for this year and how do you expect the other new rookies, such as Carissa Moore and Lee Ann Curren, to get on?
I have no doubt Carissa and Lee Ann will do great this year. They both really deserve their places on the tour with some of the strongest and smooth surfing you’ll see. My hopes are to be consistent and hopefully cause an upset or two!

Do you think Steph Gilmore is guaranteed her 4th World Title?
Nothing is guaranteed! She definitely proved her point winning the first event but all the girls are hungry and surfing just as good so it’s a matter of keeping composure and consistency.

What are your dream wave conditions?
I love 2-4 right hand point breaks! Long rippable lefts are fun too…

How do you gear yourself up mentally for a contest?
I try to keep things as they are on every other day – relaxed and focused. When I get too serious I never do good. So I keep it simple, watch the waves, trust my equipment, and listen to Dad.

What was your biggest wipeout and were you scared?
I can’t remember just one… I do remember getting tangled up with my friend Sage at Rockies once though. It was only 4-6 foot but we were tangled together and got a two-wave hold down. It was more rattling that we couldn’t come up than anything else!

Where is your favourite place to surf?
I love Snapper Rocks, Lowers, Rockies, V-Land, and anywhere in the Mentawais or Maldives!

How much time do you have to spend doing photo shoots and do you like that side of the business?
As of last year a lot more time went into photo shoots! It’s not that bad. It’s always fun playing with the new clothes, getting your make up done and experiencing different photographers. I did one with Volcom last year with this really high fashion photographer, which was so interesting, he taught me a lot about perspective and poses. It was actually really fun!!!

What is the atmosphere like on the ASP tour?
The Women’s side is really mellow. All the girls get along, openly discuss boards and conditions, and just have fun! Being a tight-nit group of 17 is how it should be I think 🙂

What do you love most about being a pro surfer, and what’s the toughest part?
It’s pretty clichéd but I love travelling. Getting paid to surf the best waves in the world is pretty special. Not many people have jobs that allow them to do something they love with the people they love so I’m pretty blessed! The toughest part would be little things like connecting flights, competing in tough conditions, and having to continuously improving, there’s no stopping!!!

Coco is sponsored by Volcom, Nike 6.0 & Warrior Wetsuits

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