What makes Michael Ho a surfing legend? For starters, in 1982 he won the Pipeline Masters in nationally televised ten- to twelve- foot, Hawai’ian-scale surf. Keep in mind he had a broken wrist as a result of a pre-finals skateboard accident (no doubt a gnarly Bertleman-style layback/cutback that went awry). A pioneer of the “small board in big waves mindset, he hasn’t let up since, and at the age of 46 he’s still taking out pros half his age, although these days Michael’s mainly competing on the ASP Masters circuit. Nobody is safe with Michael in a heat—especially at Sunset Beach, where he resides and surfs religiously.
Everybody on the North Shore of O’ahu loves Michael, and he’s one of the friendliest guys you could ever meet. His nickname, “Pops, conveys an affection for all things young, especially his twelve-year-old daughter Coco and fifteen-year-old son Mason, who have the bloodline and upbringing to become legends themselves. Being the official drive-the-neighborhood-to-the-contest dad, it’s not uncommon to see Michael driving around a pickup truck loaded with groms and their 4’10s ready to rip anything thrown their way. “I love watching the kids grow up and seeing them progress, says a proud Pops. “It’s my main inspiration, and it makes me stay younger.
But what influences and drives someone to win the Pipe Masters with a broken wrist? “I had no choice, to tell you the truth. The only thing I could do was grab my rail—and hopefully make the wave, recalls Mike. “I just did what I had to do—you know how contests are, I just got lucky. If I would’ve had to surf the whole contest with a broken wrist, I probably wouldn’t have made it—but it was just one heat, so …
With his wife and family, including younger brother and 1993 World Champ Derek, watching from the beach, Michael took the title. Who can ever forget the shot of Michael pig-dogging a massive Pipe wave with a cast on his lower left forearm? That’s the stuff legends are made of. Hats off to Michael Ho, a legend in our own time. — JC