"Just when you think you have prepared for all the possibilities, something unexpected pops up and throws things into confusion."
The quote above is just part of an excerpt Kolohe Andino posted on his Instagram shortly after his last place finish at Trestles. Now it's a dangerous and foolish game to look into a person's psyche through the lens of their Instagram account, but it does provide some insight into the Californian's year so far.
Trying to predict and plan for his future has been difficult in 2017. With the Quik Pro France due to kick off any day now, Andino currently sits as the World No 12. On paper that's a good return, especially for a surfer who has thrived over the European leg in recent years and could be expected to break into the top 10.
However Andino's year has been a roller coaster, punctuated by incredible surfing and podium finishes at Margaret River and Teahupo'o, but punctured by Round Two losses at Rio, J-Bay and Trestles. It's a continuation of the erratic results that have been a feature of Andino's career. On a year-to-year scale, he's bounced from year- end ratings of 26 in 2013, up to 11th in 2014, back to 25th in 2015, before his career-best finish last year as the World No. 4.
On the one hand it is an inconsistency that is troubling, pointing to some competitive frailties. On the other it also shows that Andino has the rare ability to overcome a poor result with a strong showing at the next one. It is a "bouncebackability" that is admirable. Last year for example Andino overcame a typical uneven start to the year (a Final, a fifth and three 25ths by Fiji), only to finish with the most consistent six months of his career that ended with Semifinal finishes in France, Portugal and Pipe.
In his fifth year on the CT he looked like he had cracked the consistency code and found a way to blend his dynamic surfing into the competitive zone. "The reason that I'm confident is that I have a formula and that I'm not worrying about anybody else," Kolohe Andino said after France last year. "Previously I didn't have a formula and I did worry about everybody else. It's all mental. I know that everybody on tour can win a World Title and it's all between the ears. I'm pretty happy where I'm at."
Starting this year with a ninth at Snapper and a Final at Margaret River indicated that the formula was still working. However yet again, a string of Round Two losses derailed his campaign. A Semifinal at Teahupo'o seemed to again have him back on track, but that just made the Trestles blow out even harder to take.
That's why the Quik Pro France and MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal provide the perfect opportunity to sort out the glitches conclusively for 2017. For the last three years Andino has been incredibly consistent throughout the Europe Leg, averaging better than a Quarterfinal finish for each event. The waves and the lifestyle obviously suit his surfing and his temperament.
He might not be over- thinking his future, but the next 20 days should determine whether this uneven year ends on an upper or a downer. It might just the time to hop off the roller coaster and aim straight for the top 10.