We know how Mason and Coco Ho are when apart. We know Coco is a Beyoncé-loving, happy, wave-slashing assassin with world championship dreams running through her head. We know Mason is a madman, makes our favorite webclips and is one of the most unpredictable and exciting surfers on the planet. But what are they like together? What do they think of each other and how do they interact? A few months back, SURFING Magazine invited Mason and Coco on a rare sibling surf trip to Costa Rica — no event, no agenda, other than surfing as much as possible and analyzing the relationship between two of the world’s best surfers who also happen to be brother and sister. —Chris Coté
SURFING: The title of this article is going to be, “Keeping Up With the Ho-Slashians,” because I know how much you like Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
COCO HO: Shut up! I only watch it for the outfits.
Tell me about your princess tendencies. ‘Cause you’re definitely a girly-girl princess, but at the same time you’re kind of intimidating and badass, too.
Well, I was the only girl in the family and in our crew of friends growing up. I got the princess room all the time and, yeah, when you’re the little sister, your brother will do anything for you. He’ll back you up, and he has to give you the last cookie at dessert [laughs].
Are you spoiled?
What are your thoughts on where women’s surfing is at right now?
We’re doing pretty well as female surfers — I don’t think we deserve more yet. The feminists are going to kill me, but all I’m saying is, right now, we don’t deserve as much as the guys. In some jobs, women totally deserve as much because they’re doing the same work. We’re doing the same job as guys but at a different level. Our competitive level is slowly getting where it needs to be and the prize money is following. We don’t need to be out there petitioning and fighting because it’s already happening. It’s growing at the right pace.
How have you been handling the ups and downs that come with life on tour?
It’s all about mental strength. It’s my sixth year on tour, and I’m still learning so much about the ocean, which is really important. That’s why surfing is so humbling — you can never conquer it. At least that’s what I tell myself when I lose [laughs].
When you won the 6-Star Los Cabos Open Of Surf, what did that do for your confidence?
Winning reminded me that I am one of the top surfers in the world. But on the other hand, losing is OK because it’s the most humbling experience and it makes you dissect every flaw in your surfing. When I’m losing I try to channel my inner Mason. Mason stays positive and happy no matter what.
Your ultimate goal: world champion?
Yes, definitely. But really I just want to reach my potential, and hopefully those two things go hand in hand.
Changing gears, was it hard to start dating and liking boys because of who you are, who your family is and the fact that you’re the princess of the North Shore?
It’s crazy, because I am so close to my dad and brother, so I never wanted them to hear anything bad about me. Of course I had crushes. I grew up around boys. At first, I thought no one would even look at me ‘cause they were scared of my dad or brother. For a long time I would never tell my dad or brother anything about boys. But I was mellow as a young girl. I didn’t have a choice, I had a million protective eyes on me at all times.
Do you remember the first boyfriend you told your dad and brother about? How scary was that for you both?
The first boy I told my brother about was John [Florence] and I was just cringing in the water, telling Mason about him. I was like, “So…uh…I’m kind of dating John.” It was so weird because it was close to home and he was like, “What? Really?” I definitely overanalyzed the first one. I asked my friends like 10 times, “Should I tell Mason now?” It’s funny ‘cause I was 18 at the time — it shouldn’t have been a big deal!
Now you’re with your new boyfriend [professional snowboarder Mark McMorris]. How’d that all happen?
We randomly met at the X Games. I didn’t think much of it at first, but we kept in touch. It sounds funny, but we only talked through Facebook. For months we would write novels to each other; we didn’t even have each other’s number for the first six months. But, through our messaging, we started to build a relationship. We’d write about everything. It may sound strange but it was really genuine, writing each other these long, caring novels. It was nice. It was like a little vacation from always talking surf, surf, surf.
So what do you like about him?
He’s extremely supportive, but not in a way that’s over the top. He’s not just, like, “Go kill ‘em, babe!” He’s supportive for the right reasons. He can inspire and encourage me, and his support is so genuine and from the heart. There’s something about snowboarders, about their world. For me, I was really open with him right off the bat, and he was really proud to call me his. Even in the middle of the craziest year of his life, during the Olympics, he’d call me every day. He’s so real. I didn’t know you could find a person like that this young. He was only 19 then, and he had his shit together. It’s crazy because you think young kids have a lot they need to get out of their system, or they still have a lot to learn, but I feel like Mark had it all right off the bat. It helped me to grow. He’s helped me relax and enjoy life a little more and know I can still get a lot accomplished. I hadn’t won an event in a couple years, and then the one event he came to [The Los Cabos 6-Star], I finally relaxed and won. He’s totally brought me to a new place mentally.
Soft-spoken, skinny white Canadian pro snowboarder meets Dad and older brother, who happen to be the legendary Mike Ho and the outrageous Mason Ho — what’s that like?
Mark actually met Mason and my dad right after Mason had lost in an early round of the US Open, and both of them were upset, but they made nice and were super sweet to Mark. My dad met Mark’s parents right before the Olympics when he broke his rib and there was so much shock and worry in the family, but my dad and Mark’s parents hit it off right away because they have so much in common. Now my dad loves Mark. He actually hogs all Mark’s time when we’re all together [laughs]. My dad trusts me and my instincts and knows I don’t take relationships and big decisions lightly. I am daddy’s little girl, but I’m also real stubborn, and when I want something I’ll go do it. He’ll never doubt what I’m doing. But sometimes I just have to do it without telling him. Like the ESPN Body Issue. There are a few things I’ve had to do that way: one was getting a boyfriend, and one was the Body Issue.
When you first saw the ESPN Body Issue, were you thinking, “Oh, this is interesting,” or “No, I would never do this”?
I was with Alana [Blanchard] and Bruna [Schmitz] the first time STAB ever did one of those sexy shoots and they were trying to have me, Alana and Bruna in one shoot. I was only 17, so my manager was like, “No way, not a chance.” At 17 I was still coming into my own. I didn’t know if I loved my body. I wasn’t confident. I was a really late bloomer. By now I’ve learned about my body and what to appreciate and accept. I’ve always thought I had really strong legs and I despised that. But I’m finally starting to take all that in. Beyoncé has huge legs and I love how she looks, so that made me feel good. Obviously in some parts of the world strength really is beauty. In Brazil, women are always like, “You have such good legs!” Bruna’s mom tells me, “Every girl in Brazil tries to get those legs!” So this year, when I got the call to do the Body Issue, I was excited. But it’s a shoot where I wanted someone there on my team. But who would I want there with me naked all day? Obviously, I couldn’t bring my dad or Mason, so Mark came, and I couldn’t have had any better support. It was crazy. After the first few shots I would throw a robe on under water, but by the end of the first day I was jumping off the boat naked, totally comfortable. ESPN does it so well. It was a small group of professionals. I knew it was safe and I knew all the names that have done it before. Obviously, Steph, Kelly, Maya…but all the other names, too. Michael Phelps was in this issue. Venus Williams. It’s so prestigious; I’m just honored to be part of it.
What’s the reaction been from your dad and the rest of your family?
I think my mom will be really proud and stoked. I think my grandma will be like, “Wow! Why did you do that?” I think the only reason Mason will be psyched is because I’m surfing naked and that’s his trademark move. He will just be baffled I did something up to his standards. Dad? I don’t know. I’m not going to be the one to show him. I told him a month before. It’s one of those things where I just came right out and told him. But it wasn’t a question. It was just like, “Dad, I’m doing this.”
SURFING: Dude, your kid sister has a boyfriend! What the hell, man, you should go pound him! [Laughs]
MASON HO: Nah! Well, maybe four or five years ago I would have [laughs]. I’ve been pretty protective of her through most of her life, but in this case I was almost like, “Haha, my sister’s going to have a boyfriend, this is pretty funny.” I got to meet him and he was super cool and I didn’t want to roust him. Mainly, I didn’t want to bum her out. I never want her bummed. That’s the main thing. Every day, me and dad just try to not bum Coco out. To us, she’s definitely not the positive princess everyone thinks she is [laughs].
What do you admire most about her?
She’s just like my dad and my Uncle Derek, and those are my heroes. She doesn’t even try, that’s just how she is. I’m always like, “F–k that’s so cool, she’s just like uncle Derek.” It might not always be for something good, though. [laughs] Coco can get nuts, but she’s really nice, too. I don’t know how to explain it, but she’s really on her game.
What about you, what’s your main focus? Making your next movie, surfing contests, pulling chicks, doing airs?
Trying to qualify. That’s the bottom line. That’s what I want to do. The WQS is so frustrating, though. It drives me crazy. It’s almost like the Afro. The Afro is like, the bigger it gets, the sicker it is, right? But the middle part of growing an Afro is weird. The tour is the sickest shit ever, but getting on through the ‘QS is really tough. Wait, does that make sense?
Anyway, since I was a kid, my dream has always been to be on the tour, maybe get a world title, and get on the best waves ever. I know I can do it. In my head I’m thinking I can surf these big waves just as good as most of the guys on tour, and I’m not trying to sound cocky at all, I just know what I’m capable of in good waves, you know? When I was 18 and 19, I gave it full throttle — I wouldn’t even go out at night, I was dead set on qualifying. I went to every contest, but I’d always pick the wrong waves and I’d lose. When you lose a couple events in a row, it’s so frustrating. I mean, I’ve been grinding it for a while now and trying to change how I surf to fit the qualifying system and that’s really f–ked me up. Now, I’m just going to be all me, all the time. I can still adapt and learn, but I ain’t changing anything.
Thanks. Well, I need to open up my repertoire a bit more, and use some tactics. When I was a kid I had crazy tactics that wouldn’t fly these days. One time I shit during an NSSA heat with Dusty Payne and he just tripped out. It threw him off his whole program and I won the heat! [laughs]. But, nah, I’m still laser-focused and I’m doing everything I can to qualify. I’ll never turn my back on competition.
Do you expect to qualify in the next couple of years?
I know I can. I grew up with Kolohe and John John and we have been competing since… forever. They just popped right on tour with ease, and they’re both going mental. That inspires me; I want to be there with them.
Well, tour or not, you’ve become a favorite to so many surf fans because of your online videos — hands down, the best shit on the Web.
That’s what kind of gave me a little re-spark. They were trying to make the …Lost movie for a long time, and we’d rack up clips all day, every day. They would be like, “Oh the movie’s coming out at this time so get all these clips.” I’d try and save all the clips, but then more time would pass and I’d think, “Man, I have to get this stuff out there before it gets old!” Rory [Pringle] and I started filming together and it just clicked. I actually made a little private Vimeo for my sponsors to let them know I’ve been working and everyone I sent it to was freaking and wanted the vid released. Eventually we started releasing these videos that were just, like, raw clips with music and I guess people started liking them, so we kept doing them. We put out some Rockpile stuff recently and people loved it. I love seeing people freak the f–k out when I’m surfing by rocks. We’re making a movie now, so the best clips are being saved. I noticed when I started putting less clips out, the comments were way more positive, anyway. It’s like bait. I want to have a nice meal for them, too. Appetizer, appetizer, then — boom! Meal. Hopefully the online edits keep people full until our big movie comes out.
When do you want to release the big one?
This winter. My original plan was at the US Open, having hot chicks handing them out. I don’t really want to make a Mason movie; so it’s a …Lost movie with a lot of Mason in it.
You and …Lost have something really good going. What is it about them that keeps you psyched?
The family vibe and the boards. I’ve had a few bigger offers from some cool companies, but I love …Lost. I don’t have a manager or any of that shit. I’m like, “Dad, should I get a manager now? Guys are getting deals with sock companies and stuff — getting money from all angles!” He’s like, “F–k that! You can’t even make a heat. Get on the tour, then maybe we’ll think about it.” Every time he says that I’m like, “You’re totally right. I can’t even make a heat!” So, no manager or corporate sponsorship deals till I make the tour. [laughs]