Kolohe Andino: Barbarian at the gate

The boy heads into Rio enraged. He will probably win.

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 the heaviest heavy burden. The surf masses are critical of his every move. He is critical of his every move. This year on tour has not been kind but he seems steely-eyed. Will he achieve his potential in Rio? 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 Rio. 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. Not the best choice.” Yes, I still hope the world for Kolohe Andino. His potential is still very real.

Dane Gudauskas West Bank
Three Californians go to Israel and take a day-trip to Bethlehem to inspect the West Bank barrier.

What the Gudauskas Bros got wrong about Israel

Sing-song naïveté comes to the most misunderstood country on earth… 

Yesterday, those fabulous Californians, the Gudauskas brothers, dropped their latest Down Days clip into the world. Down Days is a travel series by the swinging threesome and, so far, Pat, Dane and Tanner have brought their Endless Summer smiles and hucks to Iceland, Germany and, lately, Israel.

In this episode, the brothers fly into Tel Aviv, play smash ball, surf wedges at Hilton Beach, get boozed, eat at a local’s restaurant (“It’s Baba Ganoush, baby!”) and, it is suggested, unless I’m missing something, that they even play dirty with some pretty local gals. It’s a gas!

(Click here to watch)

But watch it fall to pieces when they hit the divided city of Jerusalem. If you ain’t hip to the history of the joint, it’s not a good idea to paint it as a conflict confected by politicians.

The brothers see the Israeli West Bank barrier, that divides Jew from Muslim, and Dane says, “It changes your perspective on a lot of different things.”

“It’s gnarly!” they agree.

In the West Bank (i.e. Palestinian) town of Bethlehem, where they’ve been advised to bring bodyguards, they interview a Christian, Claire Anastas, whose home is surrounded on three sides by the wall.

Anastas is is the dial-a-quote every media organisation from Al-Jareeza to 60 minutes calls when they want to talk about the wall.

Yeah, she don’t like it.

“We believe in peace, we have inner peace, we hope that the others will have the same and work for having peace for all people,” she says.

It’s so easy!

“The aura was going off!” yelps Pat afterwards.

You want to know why it exists, boys?

Because the Palestinians sure do like killing Jews.

Between 2000 and 2003, 73 suicide attacks came from the West Bank. Over the next few years, and in the shadow of the barrier, 12 attacks happened. Last year, Palestinians who live or work in Israel re-started their habit of stabbing and running over random Israeli citizens, including babies.

(Click here)

If America had faced the suicide bombings that confronted Israel, she would’ve bombed hell out of the joint. Instead, the Israelis built a wall.

Why no mention of the reasons behind its build instead of some sing-song bullshit about brotherhood? Why didn’t you ask Claire Anastas why the Christian population has gone from 70 per cent in Bethlehem to around 15% in just 50 years? Or why Christians don’t even think about living in Gaza? It ain’t the Jews doing the persecuting on that side.

As for the barrier, no wall equals dead Jews. Talk about that.

(Click here for an easy-to-read history of Israel)

(And click here if you want to find out why Iz is such a rad surf trip.) 


Andy Irons House
…so this is how Hanalei Bay looks from the air. Y'got Julia's $30 mill crib here, the beachbreak Andy and Bruce grew up surfing (Pine Trees) in the middle and the AI Bomber a little further down the track. | Photo: Scott Valor

When Andy Irons Owned Hanalei Bay

Come inside The Champ's old house at 5494 Weke Road… 

The passage of time is a curious thing. Was it only four-and-a-half years ago that Andy Irons, the surfer who won three consecutive world titles (2002, 2003 and 2004) and then finished second for the next two years, disappeared?

And yet, over time, we move on. Images dull. Faces, once so familiar, so vivid, drift into impressionistic smudges.

Last week, I wrote about Julia Roberts selling her 30-mill crib at Hanalei Bay. And it reminded me of Andy Irons and the Hanalei Bay house he poured his entire fortune into. He was stretched. Even on a million-dollar salary it takes something to buy almost-beachfront on Kauai. And he was proud of it.

Andy Irons' house
AI’s old house at 5494 Weke Road, Hanalei Bay. “I grew up across the street in my dad’s tool shed that we turned into a bedroom and it’s four houses across from the water,” Andy told me two weeks before he died. “It’s everything I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t have. It’s more than I could possibly fathom. No one handed it to me. I had to fucken go and do it myself. And, it’s my proudest accomplishment.”

“I call it the Hanalei Bomber. It’s radical, it’s my dream,” he told me two weeks before he died. “I grew up across the street in my dad’s tool shed that we turned into a bedroom and it’s four houses across from the water. It’s everything I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t have. It’s more than I could possibly fathom. No one handed it to me. I had to fucken go and do it myself. And, it’s my proudest accomplishment.”

Andy’s widow had to sell the Bomber three years back. Taxes of $17,000 a year plus everything else. How can a single gal take care of that? It sold for $4.3 mill to a guy from California.

The real estate agent’s spiel was this: “Elegant Asian-inspired two story home on Kauai’s magnificent Hanalei Bay is now available for new ownership. Newly built in 2003 this 3 bedroom 3.5 Bath home is a TVR approved successful vacation rental. Another Guest house may be built on property (please verify density with County). Views of panoramic turquoise blue ocean, colorful sunsets, and majestic waterfall mountains abound. Exotic Brazilian cherrywood floor and marble stone touches compliment the home. The grand master bedroom is located on the 2nd floor. Also upstairs is the kitchen, living/dining room and powder room. The home offers two covered lanais, providing ample space for dining or lounging while gazing out to the Bay from back of home and gorgeous mountains from the front of home. The downstairs master suite and guest bedroom offer garden views. World famous “Pine Trees” surf break is right out your front door. Watch whales and world-class surfers from the wrap around lanai all winter, enjoy beautiful sailboats, and sunbathers all summer. Hanalei “town” is only a minutes walk away. This beachfront home is even better in person than the pictures can show.”

But don’t be sad! As Andy said, “You just deal with it, fuck! What if I didn’t win any world titles? What if? What if? What if the world ended yesterday, we would not be here! What if? I mean, fuck, I could drown all day in what-ifs. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow, because you don’t even know what’s going to happen right now.”

Now let’s take a little stroll through the rooms…

(Click here!)

Adriano: “I just beat the best surfer on the planet!”

Adriano "Anaconda" De Souza Squeezes John John at the Drug Aware Pro 2015, Margaret River… 

By any measure, at least in the current system, Adriano de Souza clearly won the Drug Aware Pro a few hours ago. Two sets. A handful of turns with clean floater finishes. If you were there, y’would’ve seen the halos of spray from the beach, 300 metres away. An 8.93 and a 8.60.

Yup, fair.

Pro surfing judging, you see, ain’t the science of rockets. Adriano, who now swings as Anaconda (“Here comes the Anaconda squeeze!” said the commentator Aaron Blakey) knows better than anyone that you don’t need to throw your fins. Catch sets and tag ’em but be careful to sprinkle just enough sugar here and there or else you’ll be penalised for playing it safe (Just ask Nat Young in his semi against John John) and you’ll nail eights.

Never nines. And never tens. But average 16 in your heats and you’re a world champion.

Adriano finished the Australian leg of the 11-event tour with a third (Snapper), a second (Bells) and a first. Eight k points between him and Mick Fanning in second place.

John John, meanwhile, stole the smaller waves, collected a nine and a back-up seven that could’ve swung from seven to nine, depending on your mood. And that’s the thing about judging. What differential do you apply to John John’s frontside whips, daggers, stabs, whatever you want to call ’em, that teeter on the precipice for the duration of the turn, to Adriano’s classic-enough but danger-free wraps?

John John Florence
“The big ol noodle whips, those arms that dance around,” said the commentator Ross Williams who was in as good form, in the commentary booth, as John John was in the water. 

Compare Adriano to John John’s waves and the judges threw John John an average of a point-and-a-half higher for turns that no one else in the world can do.

Is it enough? Is it fair?

Whatever, Adriano is a world away in number one. His secret?

“Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string.”

Chris Ward: “I shared beers with kangaroos!”

Amazing out of context quotes from the world's most interesting surfer.

“I don’t need to lie. I like to do stuff and I did. I did it just to say I drove all the way across Australia and I would do it again probably just cuz I liked it so much. My favorite part was going to a liquor store out in the middle of absolutely nowhere and asking for a beer. I’d take it outside and there’d be kangaroos who would ask to share it with me. I mean, they wouldn’t ask like…what was that movie?…Kangaroo Jack…but they would ask in their own way. They would move their arms a little like they were drinking. I’d finish ¾ of the beer and give it to them. I was sharing a beer with a kangaroo. I don’t care who you are that is fucking great.”

I saw Chris Ward five years ago on the bluff overlooking Margaret River. The contest was on and he was standing next to his rental car all smiles and tan and his smiles were so white. His rental car was not white but rather covered in bugs. Thousands and millions of little deaths. And he told me he had just driven out from Melbourne, all the way across Australia, and I didn’t believe him, at the time. But he did do it, as I found out later in many many apocryphal stories and also from Chris Ward himself. “I’d do it again, probably, too, just because I liked it that much. I love to drive.”

There is something distinctly ethnic about his face up close. That tan is not purely Caucasian. “I’m half Thai, or Indonesian,” he says. I tell him I thought he was Cherokee or some other American Indian varietal. “Cherokee? I like that. They are a strong people.” His unique features and that smile and those sparkly eyes make him a magnet for fine ladies. Also his charisma. Chris Ward is pure charisma. When the waitress comes, for example, his eyes fire and his smile works and the waitress melts into a little puddle.

Chris Ward is a story. A breathing story. Everyone is always telling chapters or paragraphs or sentences. The story spins out. Some of the elements are naughty, like dark winter nights up in Mammoth where women get beaten with icicles. Some are ridiculous, like a young Ward hitchhiking and performing tricks with a cavity and dental floss at age ten. All are awesome. Here are some.

“I don’t know. I love adventure. I never want to pass something up. I want to experience everything. And it keeps the dull out of surfing. Waaaaay too many dull stick figures around. You gottta have something to back the surfing. A personality. When people sit and watch the surfing webcasts I hope they don’t think that’s what surfing is. I just want to be exciting…have an exciting life. Maybe that’s just how I am.”

“I love to go on my backhand in the barrel because you can get in different positions and learn things. Frontside you’re facing the wave the whole time. Backside there are all these variations. Looking, grabbing…different lines.”
Plots and subplots. Maybe some of this heaving backside business has to do danger. Nothing so dangerous as face planting dry reef. Does he ever get scared?

“No. You can’t get scared. You just have to charge in your life. Ahhhhhhh shit. You know, I don’t like to admit that I get scared sometimes. If something happens I go into survival mode. Like last year I was out at Morro Bay with Ashley and our boat flipped. I think it was the same set that washed through Mavericks and hurt all those people…but anyhow we were out on the boat and the ocean was cool but then it turned ugly. Beyond ugly. And a big sneaker set flipped my boat right over. Instinct took over. I bear hugged Ashley and swam down and away as fast as I could. I knew that the way you die is to get sucked down in the draft of the boat. So I bear hugged and swam down as far as I could and then out. We popped up and there was some guys on jet skis who sat with us until the Coast Guard came… Another time when I was fifteen I was on the North Shore and out on, like a….I don’t know, a 6’1 or something. It was fun but then the swell just jumped and it got huge. The sky turned black and there I was trying to duck dive 30 foot waves at Rockpiles. I think I learned the hard way. If a swell is coming up check the buoys…and…”

“I came out to San Clemente when I was seven and a half or eight from Texas. I had a boogie board that summer and then I started standing on it. When winter came I just thought I’m gonna keep surfing. So I did.”

“Ahhhh when I was ten I remember cruising down in the mornings and seeing this dude, Reola (Mike Reola co-founder along with Matt Biolos of lost), who was feeding the pidgeons. We’d chat some, then a couple years later he had just started this brand with Biolos and was tie-dying some t-shirts. So, even thought I was riding for Rusty at the time, I’d go over and smash out some t-shirts for him. I was a grom and just stoked. Then a few more years down the line they had enough money to pick me up. They (lost) weren’t like the others. They were a rager company that was different. And people liked the vids, people liked the surfing. Lost was born.”

“That hurricane that hit Mexico in 2006? Yeah, I drove through that thing three times. Reola and I wanted to go and catch some hurricane swell so we drove down Baja, drove twenty whatever hours straight down there. And when we got to the spot it was perfectly glassy barrels but only like two feet so it wasn’t really worth surfing it. So Reola and I were just filming shit and there were these big puddles everywhere from storms. I was driving my truck through them and full speed and he was filming from outside. There was this one huge one but it had deep ruts in it so my tires got stuck in the rut and I drove right into a cactus that spider webbed the whole driver’s side of my windshield. Then the hurricane blew ashore and Reola and I had to hunker down in my truck. Things were pretty bad for a while and we started really running out of water. Reola was worried that the force would blow through the windshield so he stickered up the whole inside to stop it from collapsing but I couldn’t see anything so I’d have to drive with my head out of the window in a hurricane. I tried to get us to Cabo but had to turn around and then tried to get to Scorpion Bay but it was just full hurricane. Like huge rivers running everywhere. The Baja 500 was running at the same time and they were all getting stuck so we’d look after each other. We got to this river that had busted through a road and the Baja guys said it was impossible but I told them to fuck off and ran my truck right through it. That hurricane was not supposed to hit land but it just ground up the center of Baja. Finally we got to a place where there was no way out. A giant river busted the road and we were stuck. This was in the middle of fucking nowhere. And there was a Mexican family who took us in. They were, like, farmers. I don’t speak Spanish that good and they didn’t speak English but we understood each other. So we stayed with them. They had a well. After a few days the Mexican government came in on horseback and said no way the truck is getting out for weeks. They told us we had to leave the car and hike out on foot. So we did. We walked out and then got a ride to the airport. When we landed I had to go straight to Lowers because the contest was on and I surfed and got fifth. And the very next day we went back down to Baja, to the place where the truck was and got it. I brought the farmers all kinds of lost clothes, jackets, shirts, lots of jeans. Pretty much stacked up the whole village with Lost clothes……..”