After nearly cracking the Top 10 on the Championship Tour in 2014, Kolohe Andino was hoping the climb would continue. It didn't. He fell back to 25th in 2015, the very same neighborhood he's spent most of his years on tour.
During a pre-event interview last week, we asked Andino what it would take to break the cycle. He thought hard before answering. "…I think just handling my losses better," he explained. "And letting that attitude trickle everything else, like handling bad surfs better, and bad turns. I can be pretty hard on myself at times."
"So you're having more fun."
"Exactly," he laughed. "I think when I first got on tour I didn't really want to listen to anyone. I was trying to become my own man, and didn't want to listen to anyone. I was full of testosterone, wanting to figure things out on my own, and didn't know how to take criticism."
He and his longtime coach Mike Parsons had their ups and downs.
"The tour can be really tough on rookies," says Parsons. "Guys who get here are used to winning everything, and all of the sudden, if they're not doing man turns, they can easily lose five heats in a row. That's torture for a kid. They start questioning everything. So we took a break."
But getting humbled again last year resulted in Andino looking inward. "I'm feeling more mature now," he says. "Now I'm ready to listen, and I want to learn. I'm ready to be a sponge instead of…a wall (laughs). I was begging Mike to come back."
So Parsons was back by his side at Snapper.
"I feel good right now," Andino said heading into the event. "I'm treating events like this as more of a celebration of all the hard work it took to get here, and having fun, like it's not even a contest. Everything out of the water is set: rad girlfriend, eating healthy, sleeping a lot."
Andino's wide-eyed, light-footed days are behind him. And he's not the least bit star struck anymore. Today, his eyes are steely slits, and he's already grown into one of the more powerful surfers on tour. His swagger was palpable at Snapper, even while eagerly soaking in his coach's advice. Andino finished runner-up for just the second time in his CT career.
The new attitude was apparent right away. He came out firing in Round 1 against reigning World Champ Adriano de Souza and the wildcard, Mikey Wright. But he was called for an interference and finished in last. He shook it off, taking heart in 9.10 he scored along the way. Then he went on to win every heat that followed, right up until the final.
This could be the start of something.