We all begin life as babies. We cry, spit up, get changed, cry and look cute. As we grow, our adoring elders wonder what we might become. Will this little monkey become a doctor? A writer? An actor? And if one of our parents is Dino Andino, then the surf masses wonder, "Will this little monkey become a professional surfer?" It is all fun. The weight of what we might someday become is not heavy on our shoulders. We are, in fact, simply a weight on someone else's shoulders. And if our name is Kolohe Andino then we are a weight on Shane Beschen's shoulders. But it is all pure, weightless fun. Then we grow some more and start to exhibit certain talents and if our name is Kolohe Andino, people start to prophesy because they watch what we do on a surfboard.
Kolohe now bears a heavy burden. The surf masses are critical of his every move. This coming year on tour will be very interesting for him, and it will be interesting for all of us to watch. Will he achieve his potential? Will he flounder? Nobody knows. And I wonder if Kolohe ever thinks, "Son of a bitch, this bright light is hot. It used to be easy. I used to be only cute. That used to be my full-time job." He has traversed a slightly awkward adolescence and come through the other side as a man. Broad shoulders. Razor focus. But now he also must become a top 10 surfer and win events or he will be seen as having failed. He bears the heaviest burden.
I hope he shrugs it off. And I hope he does break the top 10 and win events. I believe everyone who personally knows Kolohe hopes for the same thing because he is a great kid. He is also a stylish kid and, today, he might lean down and whisper in Shane Beschen's ear, "Black Flys? Hmmmmm." Yes, I still hope the world for Kolohe Andino. His potential is still very real. And maybe — quite probably — this year he will get chaired up the beach, perched on the shoulders of the surf masses, and accept his first world tour trophy. I hope. —Chas Smith