“From the garage, to the tracks, to the water.”
That’s what San Clemente’s Kolohe Andino posted on his Instagram a few days ago, referring to short time it takes him to go from his house to the water at Lower Trestles.
Lower Trestles — Lowers — is the site of the Hurley Pro, the eighth contest in the World Surf League’s 11-contest 2017 Championship Tour. It’s the only CT contest off the U.S. mainland coast, and it’s a place a local like Andino knows like the back of his hand.
That should make Andino one of the favorites to make a run at winning the contest, which began this week, and would go a long way in helping his efforts to win a world title. Andino is currently ranked No. 11 in the world after finishing last season No. 4.
“The wave is so perfect, but it’s really soft, so if you haven’t surfed it in a while, it can kind of catch you off-guard,” Andino told surfline.com about Lowers. “Even though so easy to surf and so easy to rip, it’s still hard to time and still hard to land and do a big carve because it’s so soft but it’s also steep. It’s a weird combination for me.
“It’s a pretty good canvas; any maneuver or combo you want to do, you can do out there.”
Despite his familiarity with the wave, it hasn’t translated to winning the Hurley Pro. He finished ninth there last year, which was an improvement over the previous years. He placed 13th in 2013, ’14 and ’15. His Round 1 heat in this year’s contest found him pitted against Frederico Morais of Portugal and Jack Freestone of Australia.
Andino, the son of former pro surfer Dino Andino, is just 23, but he’s been around a while. He qualified for the CT when he was only 17, which came after he won nine National Scholastic Surfing Assn. (NSSA) titles as a grom, more than any male competitor. This year is his sixth season on the CT, but he has yet to live up to some lofty expectations — ESPN did a story on him in 2010 when he was 16, titled “The kid who could be king.”
He finished 23rd in his first year on the CT in 2012, then placed 26th (2013), 11th (2014) and 25th (2015) before his breakthrough No. 4 ranking last year.
He spent the off-season close to home in San Clemente, surfing as much as he could in an effort to reach the top of the surfing world.
“That’s the main thing for me in 2017,” he said, “just to stay in the water a lot and surf a ton.”
Keeping up with Kanoa
Huntington’s Kanoa Igarashi has been busy since winning the U.S. Open of Surfing a few weeks back.
Igarashi surfed in the Qualifying Series (QS) Vans Pro in Virginia Beach, Va., reaching the finals heat before finishing in fourth place. Then it was on to Spain for the Pull & Bear Classic, where he reached the quarterfinals before losing to Hawaii’s Keanu Asing.
Igarashi’s Round 1 heat in the Hurley Pro at Lowers found him matched up against Connor O’Leary of Australia and Sebastian Zietz of Hawaii. Igarashi entered the contest ranked No. 28 on the CT and No. 2 on the QS.
Court is in session
Santa Ana native and Sage Hill High School grad Courtney Conlogue remains in the hunt for a women’s world title. She went into the Swatch Pro at Lowers ranked No. 3 in the world, and two contest wins already this season — one at the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach in Australia and the other at the Outerknown Women’s Fiji Pro.
In her Round 1 heat at Lowers, she put up a couple 8-point scores to beat Lakey Peterson and Laura Enever to advance directly to Round 3.
Huntington Beach city contest
Huntington Beach will hold its annual city surf contest at the south side of the H.B. Pier on Sept. 16 and 17. The contest is limited to 175 competitors and is open only to Huntington Beach residents.
JOE HAAKENSON is a Huntington Beach-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at email@example.com.