Catching Up With Coco Ho
Behind her infectious smile and bubbly personality, Coco Ho is a fierce competitor and an all-around badass surfer. She nabbed rookie of the year in 2008 and has fought her way through years of the World Surf League Qualifying Series (QS) to surfing the Championship Tour (CT).
At 27, Coco Ho is deep into her 10th WSL tour. While she has nine QS wins under her belt, Coco is still searching for her CT breakthrough, focusing on surfing better and smarter.
“It’s so funny to say after surfing for however long—20 years—I’m still learning and trying to focus on the ocean and reading the ocean during heats to put myself on the best waves and giving myself the opportunity to win,” Coco says. “On every wave in a heat, I just want to push harder and surf better. And in order to do that, you need to be on good waves and get in rhythm. I’ve been really, really focused on that this year.”
She was on point with this approach most recently J-Bay in South Africa. She was stoked on a fifth place finish, feeling like she did what she wanted to do, sampling from her mastery of heavy drops, aggressive snaps, frontside airs and barrels. Her arsenal is almost as stacked as her lineup of friends and family. John John Florence and Steph Gilmore, both WSL World Champions, have both said she’s got what it takes to be crowned champ.
And even though Coco admits she dropped into the surfing game a bit late at 8 years old, being champ has always been the goal, especially when taking her family legacy into consideration. Both Coco’s dad, Michael, and uncle, Derek, are decorated surfers—there are seven Triple Crowns, three Pipe Masters, eight Duke finals and a World Title win between the two. They aren’t just known as the Hos, they are surfing royalty, better known as the Ho Dynasty. But Michael never pushed Coco, or her brother Mason, into surfing, and for this she is super grateful.
“He didn’t care if we ended up on tour or not or ended up with sponsors or not. He wanted us to know about the ocean. Maybe that derived from his culture and being Hawaiian and born and raised on the ocean. But that’s what he taught us,” she explains. “He didn’t teach us how to do a roundhouse cut back. That wasn’t a thing. It was more like, ‘This is how you read the ocean; this is what kind of equipment you use for this day on the ocean.’”
It was Mason who first got Coco on a board, but it was her dad who taught them both how to navigate the ocean.
“If you look at Mason, and how he reads waves, that’s his shining point. As a pro surfer, that’s what makes him so different from everyone.” While talking about Mason, it’s apparent there is nothing but love, respect and support between he and Coco. “For me, I don’t know if it’s quite that, but it could be the way I look on a wave is so different, and that’s because I’m just doing what my dad taught me.”
Mason, known for his one-of-a-kind, full-send style and even fuller send personality, is powering his way through the Men’s QS. Mason, on the other hand, describes Coco as a tiger in competition, whereas Steph says she’s got a hidden sassy side. Coco agrees they are both pretty accurate about her comp style.
“That’s when my Uncle Derek and my dad come out of me. My dad is a competitor; my dad is a fighter. He raised his whole family pretty much as the the oldest brother. I think that grittiness, is in my blood line. Out of the water, I like to think I’m down to earth and a social butterfly, but when my blood gets hot, I know I can pull it together and be feisty to get the score.”
Competition and tours aside, Coco surfs because she genuinely loves being in the water, especially at home on the North Shore with her crew. And who is her ideal crew? For Coco it’s easy—her dad, Michael; Mason and his friends; and her closest friends, Steph Gilmore, Maud Le Car and Frankie Harrer.
This weekend you can find Coco at the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif. This is the seventh stop for the 2018 Women’s CT, and Coco’s 13th time competing in the U.S. Open. Luckily, she’s been surfing better than ever recently, so we’re hoping it’s only a matter of time before she breaks into the top 10 on the Jeep Leaderboard! Good luck, Coco!
Follow @xococoho to keep up with Coco.