Kohl Christensen, main contender for the Milosky Mettle
We are on a farm. Chickens cluck, dogs bark, tradewinds blow and Kohl is making me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He spreads the PB as he speaks. He slices bananas and even adds coconut butter. Kohl is tall, unassuming, moves sleepily and is almost bashful. He is a contender for the Milosky Mettle, not just because he continually catches some of the biggest waves on earth year after year, but because he adds coconut butter. He cares. About me, about the earth, about the people on it. He surfs, farms, and makes a living, but wants these things to mean something. But more than just wanting it, he has the mettle to already live it. We finish our sammies and talk about big waves, Sion, and sustainability as he walks me through his land.
Growing up in Kailua, we don’t really have the biggest waves, so I’d have to drive up to the North Shore for the big stuff until I moved out here. But probably my most memorable, kind of introductory session to big-wave riding was when I was about 17. I drove out by myself after school — and it was actually the day Todd Chesser died, but I didn’t know it at the time — and I paddled out to a beautiful, macking outer reef. The day was just so pristine and gorgeous, but it was a humbling experience, not to mention what happened with Todd.
I knew Sion pretty well. We had a mutual respect for one another and surfed similar-sized waves. We also had our own businesses and worked with our hands, both in construction. We definitely had some amazing surf sessions together over the years and he always impressed me.
I’m a general contractor and I have this solar business. But right now we’re working on doing some off-grid stuff, trying to get clean power to people in Fiji and give some solar education too. It’s fun. When people see they don’t have to put gas in a generator all day to make light, they’re stoked. [Laughs] And it’s cool, hooking up with Patagonia, we can do some cool projects in places where there’s surf, but we’re also there helping people, people who don’t really have the means to get solar.
I got really fortunate to purchase this plot of land I’m living on, turning it into an organic farm. I think my biggest goal in life is to live in a sustainable community, kinda like what I have here where we can all grow are own food to feed ourselves, surf the biggest waves in the world, provide solar to the community and make a living by doing something I believe in.