The gap that once existed between the Pros and Juniors seems to be shrinking rapidly, now just a sliver of the great wedge of yesteryear. How else can we explain the fact that 17-year-old Kolohe Andino took down three World Tour standouts in the Men's Final at the Vans Pier Classic? The combined years that those three have been surfing at the elite level is nearly double the years that Kolohe has even been alive. Yesterday the young San Clemente phenom agreed to sit down and talk about his recent competitive feat…although we had to wait until after school.
So you were injured toward the end of last year, how has it been coming back from that and how do you feel in the water now?
I feel like a couple days ago in the contest I was surfing the best that I could surf. Of course it was hard coming back, I had some other injuries that came along with it from the other muscles compensating. Once you get an injury, it seems like more injuries seem to come along with it. You know, compensation. But I'm stoked right now, I feel like I'm in a good place with my surfing, just looking to get on some trips and get barreled and stuff.
So your double victories last weekend must mean that much more to you coming off an injury.
Yeah, I mean, it's the best result I've ever had in my life, for sure. Since I got injured, I did like three events, and some people seemed pretty harsh on me for not getting results right off the bat like I was before I got hurt. But that was just my third event in, and I'm stoked to win it for sure.
What was it like surfing in such a stacked final? It was great for everybody to watch because it was almost like four generations of surfers being represented out there.
It was crazy! I look to copy all three of them in certain ways, like the way they surf and compete and everything, so it was crazy to be in a final with them. At one point I looked over and it was Damien right next to me, and I don't usually say anything in heats, but I almost forgot I was in a heat and said something because I've never been in a heat with someone that good and that accomplished. I was kind of tripping because it seemed almost surreal.
With the level of talent and progressive surfing at the Pro Junior final, it seems like the competition is just as intense as in Pro events. Would you agree?
I don't really know. It's kind of weird because I'm in that group of junior surfers, so I can't really speak for myself in that sense, but guys like Evan Geiselman, Andrew Doheny, Conner Coffin, and John John can do maneuvers that a lot of the guys on the WT have a hard time making, and they do them in their sleep. Evan Geiselman just moved to San Clemente and I surf with him everyday, and he does those inverted air-reverses like it's nothing. And that's not the only thing he can do. He can do sick wraps and has a killer backhand and everything. But I think when you surf against guys that are older than you they have so much more experience and their mindset is a lot different from the junior surfers, so for me it was a lot harder surfing against the older guys, for sure. It's just like seniority, you know? When you play an older guy at ping-pong it's a lot harder to beat him, even though the younger guy might be as good. It's just different.
Obviously you will be focusing a lot of this year on getting results, but will we be seeing you work on anything else–like video parts–in the near future?
I don't think my sponsors have plans for movies. I know I'm going on a big Red Bull trip in June, I think, and I'm doing the US Open and Lowers, and then some 6-star Primes that I can get into. Other than that, I'll just be cruising around home and trying to get on as many trips with good waves as I can. San Clemente is great, but it doesn't really barrel that much. I want to get barreled.