Welcome to Welcome, SURFING Magazine’s new preview of World Tour events. We’ll be shooting the breeze with the Tour surfer who knows each venue best before every event and finding out what it’ll take to shower in the champagne at the comp’s conclusion. For Lowers, Kolohe Andino was easily that guy. Born to the digital age, the world has watched Kolohe grow up on those fabled cobblestones. First, he was a cute little 10-year-old who surprisingly knew a lot about rail work. Then he was an innovative teen dropping edits louder than all explosions bursting on Camp Pendleton. And now, he’s the mature young man with a tight arc and a picture-perfect tail throw. Brother knows Lowers back of his Mayhem, and he’s already drawn the map to the podium. Here’s what it looks like.
SURFING: Are you pretty extensive with landmarks at Lowers or do you just sit in front of the porta potties like the rest of us heathens?
KOLOHE ANDINO: That’s funny, I was just thinking about this the other day. I actually don’t even have a lineup spot out there. I’ve always just lined up with the crowd. I don’t think it’s that important at Lowers. If you surf there enough, you can just tell which waves are going to be the good ones regardless of where they come in.
How important do you think rail turns are at Lowers?
Power surfing is really important everywhere on tour, and that definitely includes Lowers. But since it’s such a high performance wave, you need to do some airs as well. I think the winner has to be able to do both throughout the event.
How and when should you do airs at Lowers?
Well, if you’re going to do an air, it’s got to be a big one. And it’s more valuable if its on the first move. You’ve got to be sure to open with a really strong maneuver at Lowers — it’s way better than ending with one.
It’s an easy place to be repetitive. Do you ever think about Jadson Andre syndrome and how judges might get desensitized if they see the same exact maneuver over and over again?
The Lowers wall provides a lot of opportunities to mix it up. If you’re doing the same maneuver on every section, every wave then the judges are going to pick up on that and you’ll get scored lower and lower. Guys definitely have to watch out for that and make sure they keep variety in mind.
How cued in do you think the judges in terms of the range of difficultly between frontside and backside airs? Does that ever affect your decision-making in heats?
I’m not really sure how cued in they are, but that isn’t going to change any of my decisions out there. I know which waves to pick at Lowers and I know how to surf them.
Does your relationship with Mayhem change at all leading up to Lowers, given the fact that he shapes boards for like 137% of the guys in the event?
Luckily, that doesn’t really change anything. I feel like Mayhem is always full-force for me, and this is just another big event that we work together on. Plus, I feel like we’re pretty dialed on a good Lowers board and haven’t had to change too much moving forward.
Do you pay any mind to the draw and try to use your strongpoints to best individual competitors, or do you just go out with the same mindset every heat?
No matter who I’m surfing against, I just try to go out there and have some fun. And at Lowers, that’s a pretty easy thing to accomplish.
And here’s what everyone else thinks: