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Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Tale of two rookies

Kolohe Andino
Kolohe Andino's rookie year has had it's bumps, but he appears to be settling into the groove at the Quiksilver Pro in France.

When the Quiksilver resumes in France we'll see John John Florence and Kolohe Andino matched up against each other in round four, along with Brazil's Miguel Pupo. It's the first time Florence and Andino will meet in world tour competition, which makes it a heat worth watching. ESPN Surfing caught up with both of them to see if there really is a brewing rivalry, their thoughts on world tour life thus far, and what it takes to win at this level.

Florence, the 19-year old quasi rookie (he surfed half of the year last year) is sitting in 4th place in the world rankings. A win at this event could put him into world title contention. This is his take:

Did you feel comfortable out there today?
It's fun, man. It's fun. It's really close to the beach and it's my favorite kind of wave, but it's scary because it's hard to find a good one and you never know where that good one is going to come in at.

Is this the first time you've surfed this spot in France when it's this solid?
I've surfed it a couple times like this before, but never when it's this messy. It's just kind of weird today. There's a lot of straight closeouts, but it's definitely pretty fun. There's a lot of good waves.

The contest you won in Brazil earlier this year was in waves somewhat similar to this, do you think you can do well here?
Hopefully I can do well here.  Beachbreaks are really fun, especially when they're big barrels like this. Brazil was pretty similar, but this is bigger and thicker. It's fun.

Have you been getting to freesurf around here?
I've been surfing all around. There's so many fun banks here and it's great to find a bank for yourself.

Have you found any good ones?
That's a secret.

Kolohe Andino is an 18-year old full-fledged rookie on tour.  He recently got back in the water after suffering a nasty ankle injury and is still finding his feet, so to speak. He suffered a close loss to Brazilian Heitor Alves at Trestles a couple weeks ago and came to France on a mission to make some heats. In a slow round two bout with Josh Kerr, he threaded a nice tube but was unable to find a backup wave higher than 1.0. It was still enough to beat Kerr, however, who's been dealing with injury issues of his own. And in round three he slipped by Taj Burrow in the closing seconds of their duel, which alters the world title race in a big way.

When was the last time you made it to round three?
The last time I made it to round three was in Brazil in May. This is only the third time I've ever been in round three.

You had a tough loss at Trestles do you feel like you got burned by the judges there?
I don't feel like I got burned. They got excited by one maneuver. I think the judges do a good job. It's the hardest job in the world so you can't blame them. Hopefully one day I'll get the love. It happens both ways so I can't complain.

Are you stoked to be here and getting some fun waves?
I've been surfing so much.  I'm sore from getting pounded on the sand. I've got to relax a little bit.  I've been surfing six hours a day trying to get barreled.  I'm psyched that the waves are super good here.

I see you broke a board in that heat. Do you have many left?
I don't have that many actually. I've only got three 6'0"s left. No, two actually.

How many did you come here with?
Like six. I have a bunch of 5'11"s left. We'll see what happens.