For the second straight year, Kolohe Andino has bounced back from a disappointing result at Trestles and re-found the form that has him positioned in the Top 10 on the Jeep Leaderboard. His Semifinal appearance at the Quiksilver Pro France two weeks ago echoes a string of three straight 3rd-place results that he used to finish his 2016 season flying high. A number of strong performances so far in Peniche, including an absolute Backdoor-like keg in Round Two, appear to mark the return of the Californian's crackling form.
Matched against World Champ and Jeep Leader John John Florence in the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal's Round Four non-elimination heats, Andino's electric, above-the-lip attack forced the current No. 1 ranked surfer on Tour to pull a rabbit out his Monster Energy cap -- a long tube on the buzzer to scrape through to the Quarterfinals.
Fired up and focused (will he set the single event record for number of post-ride claims?), despite the tight loss, Andino took the time, and incentive, after his Round Four loss to visit the judging tower to see just what it is they're looking for in conditions that feature both tubes and ramps. Like a true pro, he used that insight to great effect in his Round Five victory, dominating rookie Leo Fioravanti from the get-go.
The fruit of his labor? Another mano-à-mano battle with Florence in the Quarters, where Andino finally got some payback on his old buddy, beating him for the first time. The win couldn't have come at a better time, too. By taking Florence out in the Quarterfinals Andino ended John's hopes of clinching another World Title in Portugal. The Jeep Leader will now have to take care of that issue at home in Hawaii, where he'll have his hands full with Gabriel Medina, Jordy Smith and Julian Wilson.