The Ghetto Juice Interview with Derek Ho

d-ho.jpg

This is the time of year we start thinking more and more about Hawaii, and when that happens you can't not think of Hawaiian superstar Derek Ho.

Truth is most surfers will never know what it’s like to surf Pipeline, let alone even surf the North Shore. Not only did Derek surf the North Shore a lot growing up, but he became a true life Pipeline Master. He was the first Hawaiian World Champ, and his 1993 ASP title was only icing on the cake.

Interview by Skip Snead

Ghetto Juice: Can you even remember a time in your surfing life when you were scared of Pipe, or never imagined surfing it? Did you dream about it as a kid or have nightmares?
Derek Ho: Yeah, growing up I had all the pictures and collages on my wall, and waves of Pipeline on my wall, but at that time that’s all it was: it was a picture and a dream. I know there was a time when I said to myself, you’ll never catch me in that thing (a big Pipe tube)! Before I knew it I was killing myself to try and get in that position, whereas ten years before I said I’d never go near it.

GJ: Fast Forward to December 1993 … you win both the Pipe Masters and the ASP World Title. It was epic.
DH: Oh yeah, being on the Tour as long as I was at the time. I started the tour in ’82. There was a time when I was watching all these guys win their world titles. The Carrolls, the Currens … and just being maybe in the top of the elite was good enough for me. Trying to meet your incentives, and your bonuses for your sponsors, whether it’s top 10 or top 5 … I was number two before that, and number three, but the points were pretty distant, and … well, I wasn’t trying to win a world title. Every year you go into it thinking about a world title, but I was rated 36th the year before. To go from 36th to number 1 that’s a pretty far fetch, so I was just trying to maintain my seed and be able to keep my job going. And just being consistent; I hadn’t won an event up till the Pipe, and I looked at the sheet (ASP Ratings) and mathematically I was the closest I’d ever been to actually, possibly, winning it. Fairytales would have to happen for that. Guys would have to win; guys would have to lose…

GJ: What’s crazy is that you squeaked out a world title just before the Momentum generation would blow up the doors and change surfing forever. There was a changing of the guard at that time, yet you won the world title.
DH: They just came in a rampage, yeah? That happened fast … there was a handful, and really to me, Slater obviously still is, he was the elite of that handful. All the others were just following his lead. And it isn’t easy. Getting there is one thing, staying there is a whole ‘nother thing. It’s insane that, well, at my time in my career I was 29 years old or whatever and they were more or less, without actually saying it, trying to brush us out the door. And in my mind, I’m going f—k, I’m only getting better. You guys are trippin’ if you think this is it! And then I got injured and that kind of hampered my competitive career at that time. Then I got an injury wildcard, and I needed to get through a heat at Pipe to requalify the next year … I lost to Cory Lopez. And I never did the WQS because if I couldn’t qualify on the WCT, straight up, to me I wasn’t worthy. So I’m not going to go back myself up with the ‘QS. So that was that. Not that I couldn’t compete, but then Slater just set the standards. To me it was like, “In your face, f-you guys! You guys don’t dictate our career, we dictate it. When we feel we’re done, we’re done.” The guy’s forty and he’s smoking guys out of this world… so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

GJ: Fast forward five years after your world title, it’s the late 90s, you’re off the tour for good, but still have great sponsors and are surfing Pipe every winter and even scoring surf mag covers. Times just got better for you after the tour?
DH: Yes, well traveling was great, kept me out of trouble. And it kept me busy, and focused on the job at hand. But after the Tour, I was able to buy a house, settle down, and have a wife and kids. I love being at home and waiting for those Pipe swells, and then for me it’s a personal thing, you know, whether I’m getting paid or not to do, that (surfing Pipe)’s what I love what I do. I’m gonna live and die right there, you know what I mean?

GJ: Yeah, well you also have “the lifetime pass” out there.
DH: Yes I have the pass. I got the pass, fortunately from wherever it came from. I nurture that, and I’d like to pass that on. I love all my kids, and anyone else who actually gives themselves the opportunity. You ain’t going to experience it unless you give your and it’s a whole different realm of surfing. There are so many different types of surfing around the world with different waves but that one you gotta make on your own, there ain’t no towing in, you gotta paddle. You gotta position yourself.

GJ: I wonder what’s it like for you to have been part of the surf world for so long, and to be so well respected and to have accomplished so much?
DH: For me it’s a big honor. It’s incredible and fortunate to live this lifestyle. I probably owe a majority of it to my brother, and first to my mother and father that introduced us to the surfing world. For us it wasn’t could we go to the beach, it was can’t we go home? Because we were at the beach 24/7 … my dad was one of the original beach boys down there in Waikiki and he introduced us to the sport while he was fishing and it was all up to us. And we just fell in love with it. And growing up, and losing my dad when I was 18, my brother being 8 years older than me, he kind of filled in that father figure, and kept my head afloat if you wanna say, growing up and really guided me into this incredible sport and to be a part of it for so long, I really couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I don’t know what else I’d be good at. I think I took a job at a gas station for one day. And I’ve never felt I’ve had another job again. And seeing where we came from and to watch how crazy surfing has evolved, and the moves they are doing today, it’s unbelievable, and being as old as I am…

GJ: You mean as young as you are.
DH: Yeah, as young as I am, ‘because I don’t feel whatever. Before I used to think, oh, 50’s old. And I think in another year I’m going to be fifty! But surfing keeps me so rooted, it makes me feel young, and I know I’d be out of shape if I wasn’t surfing and it’s a huge part of my life and watching it evolve to what it is today is incredible. And I’m just very happy that my nieces and nephews can reap the rewards of what it has to offer today.

GJ: Yes and keeping the Ho name alive and well in pro surfing….
DH: Yeah, we’re a proud family. And besides Mason and Coco I got a few other nephews that are really good like my sister’s oldest son, and the oldest grandchild, Kauai Lindo.


Posted by: Ghetto JuiceGhetto Juice at: 21 Nov 2013 19:31




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This is the time of year we start thinking more and more about Hawaii, and when that happens you can't not think of Hawaiian superstar Derek Ho.

Truth is most surfers will never know what it’s like to surf Pipeline, let alone even surf the North Shore. Not only did Derek surf the North Shore a lot growing up, but he became a true life Pipeline Master. He was the first Hawaiian World Champ, and his 1993 ASP title was only icing on the cake.

Interview by Skip Snead

Ghetto Juice: Can you even remember a time in your surfing life when you were scared of Pipe, or never imagined surfing it? Did you dream about it as a kid or have nightmares?
Derek Ho: Yeah, growing up I had all the pictures and collages on my wall, and waves of Pipeline on my wall, but at that time that’s all it was: it was a picture and a dream. I know there was a time when I said to myself, you’ll never catch me in that thing (a big Pipe tube)! Before I knew it I was killing myself to try and get in that position, whereas ten years before I said I’d never go near it.

GJ: Fast Forward to December 1993 … you win both the Pipe Masters and the ASP World Title. It was epic.
DH: Oh yeah, being on the Tour as long as I was at the time. I started the tour in ’82. There was a time when I was watching all these guys win their world titles. The Carrolls, the Currens … and just being maybe in the top of the elite was good enough for me. Trying to meet your incentives, and your bonuses for your sponsors, whether it’s top 10 or top 5 … I was number two before that, and number three, but the points were pretty distant, and … well, I wasn’t trying to win a world title. Every year you go into it thinking about a world title, but I was rated 36th the year before. To go from 36th to number 1 that’s a pretty far fetch, so I was just trying to maintain my seed and be able to keep my job going. And just being consistent; I hadn’t won an event up till the Pipe, and I looked at the sheet (ASP Ratings) and mathematically I was the closest I’d ever been to actually, possibly, winning it. Fairytales would have to happen for that. Guys would have to win; guys would have to lose…

GJ: What’s crazy is that you squeaked out a world title just before the Momentum generation would blow up the doors and change surfing forever. There was a changing of the guard at that time, yet you won the world title.
DH: They just came in a rampage, yeah? That happened fast … there was a handful, and really to me, Slater obviously still is, he was the elite of that handful. All the others were just following his lead. And it isn’t easy. Getting there is one thing, staying there is a whole ‘nother thing. It’s insane that, well, at my time in my career I was 29 years old or whatever and they were more or less, without actually saying it, trying to brush us out the door. And in my mind, I’m going f—k, I’m only getting better. You guys are trippin’ if you think this is it! And then I got injured and that kind of hampered my competitive career at that time. Then I got an injury wildcard, and I needed to get through a heat at Pipe to requalify the next year … I lost to Cory Lopez. And I never did the WQS because if I couldn’t qualify on the WCT, straight up, to me I wasn’t worthy. So I’m not going to go back myself up with the ‘QS. So that was that. Not that I couldn’t compete, but then Slater just set the standards. To me it was like, “In your face, f-you guys! You guys don’t dictate our career, we dictate it. When we feel we’re done, we’re done.” The guy’s forty and he’s smoking guys out of this world… so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

GJ: Fast forward five years after your world title, it’s the late 90s, you’re off the tour for good, but still have great sponsors and are surfing Pipe every winter and even scoring surf mag covers. Times just got better for you after the tour?
DH: Yes, well traveling was great, kept me out of trouble. And it kept me busy, and focused on the job at hand. But after the Tour, I was able to buy a house, settle down, and have a wife and kids. I love being at home and waiting for those Pipe swells, and then for me it’s a personal thing, you know, whether I’m getting paid or not to do, that (surfing Pipe)’s what I love what I do. I’m gonna live and die right there, you know what I mean?

GJ: Yeah, well you also have “the lifetime pass” out there.
DH: Yes I have the pass. I got the pass, fortunately from wherever it came from. I nurture that, and I’d like to pass that on. I love all my kids, and anyone else who actually gives themselves the opportunity. You ain’t going to experience it unless you give your and it’s a whole different realm of surfing. There are so many different types of surfing around the world with different waves but that one you gotta make on your own, there ain’t no towing in, you gotta paddle. You gotta position yourself.

GJ: I wonder what’s it like for you to have been part of the surf world for so long, and to be so well respected and to have accomplished so much?
DH: For me it’s a big honor. It’s incredible and fortunate to live this lifestyle. I probably owe a majority of it to my brother, and first to my mother and father that introduced us to the surfing world. For us it wasn’t could we go to the beach, it was can’t we go home? Because we were at the beach 24/7 … my dad was one of the original beach boys down there in Waikiki and he introduced us to the sport while he was fishing and it was all up to us. And we just fell in love with it. And growing up, and losing my dad when I was 18, my brother being 8 years older than me, he kind of filled in that father figure, and kept my head afloat if you wanna say, growing up and really guided me into this incredible sport and to be a part of it for so long, I really couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I don’t know what else I’d be good at. I think I took a job at a gas station for one day. And I’ve never felt I’ve had another job again. And seeing where we came from and to watch how crazy surfing has evolved, and the moves they are doing today, it’s unbelievable, and being as old as I am…

GJ: You mean as young as you are.
DH: Yeah, as young as I am, ‘because I don’t feel whatever. Before I used to think, oh, 50’s old. And I think in another year I’m going to be fifty! But surfing keeps me so rooted, it makes me feel young, and I know I’d be out of shape if I wasn’t surfing and it’s a huge part of my life and watching it evolve to what it is today is incredible. And I’m just very happy that my nieces and nephews can reap the rewards of what it has to offer today.

GJ: Yes and keeping the Ho name alive and well in pro surfing….
DH: Yeah, we’re a proud family. And besides Mason and Coco I got a few other nephews that are really good like my sister’s oldest son, and the oldest grandchild, Kauai Lindo.

Image d-ho.jpg