“I got the censor button on a hundred million times…”
Who does a post-heat interview better than Mason Ho? No one, right? He vibrates like a little dog!
His shaper Matt Biolos describes him as “a saviour from the fucking corporate, straight-laced, uptight, fucking, pre-planned-interview-answer surfing world we live in today.”
So what’s the secret? What makes a kid who grew up at Sunset Beach so lucid when he gets a microphone jammed under his chin?
These, and more questions, I threw at Mason a few hours ago as he reclined, sipping tea, at his Bird Rock rental, near Bells Beach. It was a lay-day for the Rip Curl Pro, maybe the first of a few, and the interviewer finds his subject full of gusto…
BeachGrit: How do you make an interview good?
Mason: If you want me to be completely honest, my sister scolded me pretty gnarly yesterday about my interviews so from what she said, I need to…answer… the questions. She told she saw a guy rolling his eyes behind me. I told her, “Coco, you must understand, I don’t care about the guy rolling his eyes. You must understand I’m just saying exactly what I’m thinking and I’m thinking a lot of stuff but I’m not saying all of it because I want to be a good role model.” I just want to be good. I want everything happy and good. Everything I’m thinking…is…happy and good but I don’t want to sound too happy and too good.
BeachGrit: Y’got a censor button? It don’t seem like it.
Mason: I got the censor button on a hundred million times. But then, I still want to express myself.
BeachGrit: Do you fizz with nervous energy when the microphone appears?
Mason: No, I’m just so happy and trying to catch my breath. My dad was saying the other day, when you go into a heat, you’re like an artist and you get this little bit of time to out there and do all your paintings. Uh, oh… I’m doing exactly what Coco said. I’m not answering the questions again. Where was I going with that?
BeachGrit: I like it. When you surf a heat, you’re like an artist.
Mason: You could liken it to a cooking show. The chefs have the hour to cook their meal with the certain materials. We go out in the water and our boards are our knives. And it is like painting. You paint whatever you want and then you show it to the judges. When I try to explain to my dad about the art on my boards, he always tells me not to forget the black pin-ines. It’s an analogy for surfing heats. Get arty but don’t forget the basic and fundamental things.
BeachGrit: Tell me something we don’t know about you and Bells…
Mason: Well, that first heat, I actually used one of Dad’s boards. It was a four-fin and I’m…over… four fins and he only rides four fins. It was this funny little board he had. I barely squeaked through the heat and I didn’t rip it, I didn’t look awesome, but it was a big heat. Jeremy Flores is super gnarly, I have so much respect for him, but I squeaked through on Dad’s board. He was so stoked afterwards, “You made it through on my board! A four fin!” I said, “I will not ride that thing again.”
The next day he was, like, “I’m going to the surf shop to get you a board (the waves had doubled in size).” He called up Neil (Ridgway, Rip Curl) and Neil said, go grab any boards you want, so Dad went in and grabbed a board off the racks. It was this six-o by 19, numbers I don’t use, got it all ready, he was psyching on it, and it was a really good board. I made the next heat and after that we were so stoked. It was such a team thing. I didn’t get to say that in any of the interviews. None of ‘em asked questions like that.
BeachGrit: I always feel like y’get wrapped up too quickly.
Mason: I think they’re saving me from myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a heat. You warm up, then the gold starts coming out a little later.
BeachGrit: Is there a pressure now to come up with something good?
Mason: Nah, I mean, it’s cool when you get to, but I just try to get in and get out of here. It’d be a dream to sound more like uncle Derek (1993 world champ Derek Ho). One time we were at the bar after I’d lost a heat at the US Open, and some guy said, “Bummer you lost out there. Why did you lose?”
Uncle Derek looks at him and says, “You know what? We never lose, sometimes we just run out of time!” I was right there, bingo, and I instantly ironed that thing into my head!
BeachGrit: You’ve been in a few CTs now. What are you feeling? Is it everything you ever imagined?
Mason: It’s not my biggest thing, sometimes, in the moment, when I’m in the contest and being interviewed and shit, it’s huge for me, which it is, but it’s not the top top top. The top priority is family. Competing’s a cool little thing to keep me healthy.
BeachGrit: Bells. Damn, that’s a tough wave. What risks will you take to win?
Mason: The only risk is really trying to crank it harder, wrap it harder, and draw little different lines.
BeachGrit: Talk about different lines.
Mason: At Bells, it’s part of looking at the whole. At every part of the wave there’s always the warbles. It’s fun to see these warbles all around, you’re bottom turning and stuff’s coming up and sideways. Sometimes you can connect ‘em all together, you see a little warble on the bottom and you crank it off that one a little, or softly go off it, one long line, then you’re up in the lip, there’s a cross wedge in the lip, a little tight pocket you see. If you’re an inch off it, you’re not going to do it as good as you want. When you’re into the little things, I feel like the surfing is sick. It’s sick you’re in the bubble, you’re gauging how much power you want.
And then, when you really really do it, dude, it looks… nice.