Kolohe Andino on his 2020 year, and new surf series “On the Side”

© Craig Kolesky/Red Bull Content Pool
"This project originally became 'On the Side' because it was on the side of all the contests from last year."
By Beau FlemisterPublished on
The great English poet, John Milton, was actually the first one to write the age-old adage: “Every cloud has a silver lining.” And while Milton was never unanimously considered Mr. Positive, the sentiment still rings true, even today. Warm rays from the sun will eventually peek out of those dark, passing cumulonimbus.
After a topsy-turvy, hurry up and wait kind of year on the WSL World Tour (which was inevitably cancelled) and two knee injuries later… World No. 5 ranked Kolohe Andino was waiting for his silver lining. A sneaky little boat trip to the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia, and he got it.
Just now releasing an exciting, new surf series of footage from at home and abroad called “On the Side,” we spoke to the man himself about the making of, and of course — this year’s radiant silver linings…
Red Bull: What have you been up to this year with the tour being cancelled and all?
Kolohe Andino: The whole year in review for me has been…well, I started off with a knee injury in January, on my right knee. I was going to get back in the water just before Snapper, but then the year basically got put on hold until July. In between that, I was surfing a bunch at home, obviously. One of the parts in “On the Side” will actually come from that time. But, besides surfing a lot of Lowers, around the beginning of July, Mexico opened up to go and surf, so I went down there…and hurt my other knee on my very first session down there.
Oh, nooo.
Yeah. So, it’s been kind of a weird year for that. But I got back in the water — I think in like four and a half weeks — and did the Rumble at the Ranch event. We got to surf three days up at the Surf Ranch, which was super cool, and I healed in time to do that. Then…I heard you could go to Indonesia and I went to Indo for two months. It was really a rad silver lining for the year because it's been my worst year as far as injuries and no tour events. I ended up doing the best trip of my life, and had seven weeks in Indonesia with basically no one around. It was really rad. The first three weeks, for example, we were on a boat in the Mentawais. We got incredible footage there, and we had a day at Greenbush that was super, super special. Usually, you get a small window out there because of the tides, but we had kind of had some higher slack-tides that day, and we got Greenbush for nearly eight hours straight. So, that was pretty rad. That session was probably the best one we had.
And then, yeah, that's basically it. During that time, they were saying that the tour possibly might start back at Pipe, so we flew down to the Maldives after Indo for a week there. Now, I’m just getting ready for that first event at Pipeline.
Kolohe Andino poses for a portrait at WSL Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California, USA on 3 September, 2019.
Kolohe Andino poses for a portrait
Right on! And, this “On the Side” series, what's the concept behind that? Is it mostly kind of free-surf sessions?
Last year, we got really, really good waves at home and I made a little 10-minute edit or video called "Home-ish.” I had accumulated a similar amount of footage after that and this project originally became “On the Side” because it was on the side of all the contests from last year. So: France and Portugal and then there's a Hawaii part and then some stuff from home in California. Once we got home from Indo, we realized we probably had enough stuff for “On the Side” to be its own living thing. So now, we're just putting that out in three parts and then we're going to do bigger things for the Indonesia stuff.
But, the first part was in Europe, in France and Portugal. I don't really know if we're going to release the Hawaii or the California parts second or third, or vice-versa. All of the parts are supposed to live together, so there’s more of an eclectic vibe as far as the music we chose, and not to just have hardcore, fast rock and roll for each of the three parts. These are going to be slower, more moody for Parts 2 and 3. I got a 16 mm camera, and our filmer, Jacob, got a Super 8. I just think it flows together with the vibe I want for the videos. I really don't like the talking that everyone does explaining everything. I just want hardcore ripping and good tunes.
Awesome. Do you find it difficult at all to film this kind of free surfing stuff in “On the Side” while being in comp-mode? Or, is there not really any pressure?
I think with my competitive career, the more I try to force stuff or overthink it — it just doesn't work out. So, it's easier to film in places like Hawaii and Europe because you're kind of always surfing in waves with legit size compared to somewhere like home. So, there's always an opportunity to get something good and when you're in that setting of the event, you're trying to surf your best, every single session. So, that stuff just kind of naturally comes out. I don't know, I also really, really like surfing beach-breaky waves. Trickier, bigger beach-breaky waves — so, I'm always very excited to paddle out in Europe.
Europe's a tricky thing, though, because if you have the wrong mindset, especially in France, you can come up short. I think there's four or five barrels at La Graviere in the end part of Part 1 and going into that session, it looked really bad. But I just paddled out and the waves turned on. All those waves just happened in like 25 minutes. It’s such a roll of the dice.
Kolohe Andino performs during the Corona J-Bay Open World Surf League in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa on July 13, 2019.
Kolohe Andino
Whoa, that’s wild. What are your upcoming plans? They're going to have Pipe and Sunset and sort of start the season back up in the States.
Yeah, they're trying to do legs, so all of us can get into the country. They're planning on another leg in Australia. And, they're planning on a whole year, so if they get that, that will be rad. Right now, they're obviously planning on Pipe, and then Sunset at the end of January, and then Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz at the beginning of February. Hopefully, that works out, and we can get back to our normal life. Right now, I'm just preparing for that and waiting for more westerly swells to come to Hawaii, and get over there to get ready for the comp.
You're set to represent the United States at the next summer Olympic Games. How are you preparing for that?
My main thing in preparation for the Olympics is that I think the waves are going to be pretty small, barring some freakish typhoon or something. Maybe there'll be shoulder-to-head high surf. So, by the time I get to that point of the year, I'm going to try to be as light as I possibly can to surf those waves. I think the way I like to surf is pretty aggressive and snappy. When I'm lighter it helps that, even at thicker waves like Bell's or Margaret's or Sunset. Being light has always been better for me. I mean, I would be pumped if I got down to 160lbs, which is 15lbs less than I am right now. Because, I truly do believe it could be very small, so every five pounds you get off of your rig will help. That's the goal.