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Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: December 5, 12:25 AM ET
Face Time: Kohl Christensen

By Jake Howard
ESPN.com

Some years ago I sat down for a sushi dinner with Kohl Christensen and a handful of the then "Pipeline Underground" contingent. Over platters of spicy tuna and shots of saki we talked about what it was like to grow up on the North Shore and be forced to yield the country's various lineups to the hordes of traveling surfers that descend upon the seven-mile strip every winter. Christensen didn't say a lot, but given what he'd been up to at Pipe and Waimea, he didn't much have to. His words carried the weight of a man that had seen and done a lot. Oddly enough, his career as a surfer was nonexistent at the time. He was a blue-collar guy that happened to charge like a mad dog.

But as they say, it's the quiet guys you have to watch out for. Christensen's backside bravado at the Bay was just the beginning. The outer reefs beckoned to him and he quickly became one of the few regulars out at places like Himalayas and Avalanche. Unbeknownst to most outside of the islands, in his quiet, understated way Christensen was going at it harder than most anyone.

Somewhere along the line Christensen and his brother decided to get off the grid, starting a farm up around Pupukea. Self-sufficient and self-styled in all the right ways, it provided him with a launch pad for things to come. At this point he was still sponsorless and funding most of his adventures with hard work and scrupulous saving.

Eventually a deal with Patagonia came, turning him into a "professional surfer" for the first time. A purest to the hilt, his dedication to paddling into giant waves never wavered. His conviction has paid off as the trend in jumping off jet skis and back into the water has flourished in the last two years. Back-to-back monumental sessions at all-time Cloudbreak cemented his reputation, prompting the likes of Nathan Fletcher and Bruce Irons to tip their cap to him and give credit where credit's due. "We wouldn't be here without Kohl," said Fletcher after their 2011 session.

The big-wave season is still young, and only Neptune knows what's going to happen over the next couple of months, but one thing to be sure of, Christensen will be ready and willing.