Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Surf [Print without images]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
"Wanna Buy Some Photos, Burkhardt"


Can you kind of see where some might have thought Coco did this on purpose.

If you're a surfer you know the scene, if you're don't, just stop reading now and go look at some rollerblade website or something. The film is, of course, the North Shore. And the scene: after climbing the ranks from Arizona wavepool champion to North Shore contender, Rick Kane finds himself in the final of the Pipe Masters. Squaring off against the infamous Lance Burkhardt, a set comes, the winning wave looms, both men paddle, Lance pulls Rick's leash, etc, etc, etc.

Synopsis aside, you're probably asking yourself what the hell does a bad B-list film from 1987 have to do with anything? Well, up until the ASP made it's ruling yesterday regarding an incident in the final of the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa involving Coco Ho, it very much looked like young Coco was the heir to Burkhardt's thrown. Ok, ok, so that's a bit dramatic. Let me tell you what happened and you can make the call. In the dying seconds of the final Layne Beachley needed a 6.8 to beat Carissa Moore. A wave came, Layne paddled, and Coco, who was also in the final, took-off in front of Layne, essentially shutting down the 36-year-old Aussie's chance of getting the score she needed. The big air she punted over Layne obviously led some to speculate that Coco did this to help give Carissa, a good friend of hers, the win.

The ASP saw it differently. "Coco is a fine young athlete and person and as a result of my investigation, notwithstanding the countless opinions being thrown about in the surf media and blogs, I am completely satisfied that this incident was the result of over-zealousness in the dying moments of a Final heat by a 17-year-old competitor who was simply trying to get a score and qualify for the ASP Women's World Tour," remarked ASP lawyer Robert Gerard in a statement released to the press. "I could go on in great detail about what was going on in Coco's mind at the time of drop-in/interference, but I am convinced that it was not directed toward harming Layne Beachley's efforts to secure a win."

"Despite various reports to the contrary, some of which misquote Ho," continued Gerard, "the facts simply did not bear out any such conclusion. Concluding that this was some sort of conspiracy between Ho and Moore is wrong and it does a great injustice to these two young athletes. Both Coco and Carissa are rising stars in the sport and they are both anxious to play by the rules."

For her part in it Layne preferred to go the no-comment route, letting bygones be bygones. Layne has already announced this will be her last year, and after such a glorious career going out in a whirlwind of controversy probably didn't sound that fun too her.

Meanwhile, proving that Coco is certainly no Lance Burkharht, even if she may be a bit overzealous at times, Coco expressed remorse for her actions. "I feel so badly about this incident, especially since it involved Layne who I hold in such high regard and who has done so much for women's surfing," commented Coco in the same ASP press release as Gerard. "I have certainly learned a lot from this whole experience and I am stoked that the ASP did not just go by the rumors and the press, but worked with me and my coach and my family to make sure I got to apologize and use this as a learning tool. For me, I just want to look forward and be the best I can be and I want to do everyone proud including my family, my sponsors, Hawai'i, my country, and the sport."

So no that that's all sorted out, it's a long winter, somebody's bound to do something dumb one of these days, and when they do, you can bet I'll be her to make way more out of it than I should. Stay tuned.

Coco roaming more open pastures.