SURFING: So, Kolohe: You’ve been sidelined for over a month with turf toe, how’s it feeling?

KOLOHE: It’s feeling really good, actually. I just surfed. That was my fifth session back, and now I’m getting ready to fly over to OZ.

Which means you’re surfing in Snapper?

Yeah, I’m in it. I grinded away — I’ve been doing therapy and body work pretty much all day everyday trying to heal it this past month. Snapper is one of my favorite waves on tour and I definitely didn’t want to miss it.

You recently told us you don’t feel as though enough young American surfers dedicate their entire life to being successful on tour, which is why we haven’t seen an influx of new American qualifiers in recent years. Do you see that changing anytime soon?

I don’t know. The guys who are on tour, they’ve dedicated themselves to that success. But there aren’t a lot of us. I think living in America, and especially in California, it’s kinda easy. We grow up next to the beach. Eat really nice food. And that’s exactly why so many people move here, because in other countries life is a lot harder.

But dedicating your entire life to something, it’s gotta come from the heart. You have to really want it. And there’s potential for young American kids to do that. But they’ve gotta go on the QS and lose first round in five straight events and not give up. Because up to that point, it’s pretty easy. A lot of the best kids here win in the NSSA, make finals in the Jr. Pros, get to the quarters in a couple small QS events, make a little money, get shots in the mags and everyone is all hyped, but then they start losing in the big QS events and they can’t handle it. I’ve seen it happen so many times.

Fortunately they don’t all crack. At least Kanoa and Conner didn’t. Are you pumped to have a couple new American faces on tour this year?

Oh yeah. Kanoa did so well, so young. But I’m stoked for him. As for Conner...I don’t think he

deliberately took his time, but he found his own way, which is a really good thing. You look at me, I might have qualified a little too early, you know? So Conner is in a great spot. And he’s surfing really strong.

Speaking of new American’s making the tour, who do you see qualifying next?

Griffin [Colapinto]. But it’s hard to say, because America has so many good surfers, if more of them had that dedication and passion for the tour, a lot of them could make it on right now. I honestly think Ian [Crane] is one of them. If he could get his head right, he could be a top 15 guy just off sheer ability. Evan [Geiselman] is another one, or someone like Dillon [Perillo] who just completely quit the tour, he’s a really, really great surfer. But I see the passion and dedication in Griffin. He’s fired up. He’s young. He’s like my little brother; so I’m rooting for him.

I’m rooting for them all. The more American guys we can get on tour, the better chance we’ll have at another world title.

Exactly. It’s an individual sport but we all push each other. It’s a weird thing, there were six guys who could have won the world title last year at Pipe and none of them were American. Hopefully we can change that. But like CJ was saying [in an interview you’ll see right here later this month] power is always going to ebb and flow, and hopefully we’ll make a big push in the coming years. I know I’m doing everything I can to work towards reaching that ultimate goal.

What did you think of our concept shoot in Huntington? And what does it mean to be on the cover of the America Issue, our first in three years? And congrats, by the way.

Thanks! I’m so stoked. That shoot was really cool. I didn’t think I got any photos that day [laughs], but I’m stoked with how that cover came out. The flag looks huge! I was tripping when I first saw it. But yeah, it’s an honor. America is awesome, but I just feel like some of the other countries have a big camaraderie for each other and it’s a snowball affect that

helps them do really good on tour. I want to manifest that for the Americans. In the past, I’ve felt like if one of the American guys did well, the other Americans got jealous, not inspired. And that’s the difference I see with the Australians and Brazilians. They get inspired. If one of them does well, it fires them all up. Like: If he can do it, I can, too. Adriano is the perfect example.

So yeah, that’s why I acknowledge the flag on my Instagram. I’m hoping we can create the same vibe here in America starting at the amateur level. Because for so long the Americans have been solo, on their own program, and it’s so weird. I want us to have that psyche and backing from each other. I want us to push each other everyday. And I think when we get there; it’ll be a really rad thing.


All Video: Jacob Vanderwork

Photos:
Steve Sherman(Opener)
Corey Wilson (Photo 2)
Jimmicane (Photo 3-end)