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Kolohe Andino on his way to a breakout year

Kolohe Andino rampaging his way into the semifinals of the 2014 Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak; photo ASP
Kolohe Andino rampaging his way into the semifinals of the 2014 Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak; photo courtesy ASP

Just about two years ago today, Kolohe Andino was not in a good place. He'd just bombed out of the Volcom Fiji Pro and broke his board in frustration with a last-place finish. It was his rookie year on the ASP World Championship Tour and between heavy expectations and less-than-stellar results, things were not going his way.

Fast forward to yesterday at Cloudbreak during the Fiji Pro and it's clear that San Clemente, California's finest has improved in more ways than one. "Today was the best I've ever surfed on Tour," said the 20-year-old regularfoot in a post-heat interview. "I felt really calm, which is good for me," he added.

Andino had several factors working for him as he tore his way into the semifinals of the Fiji Pro: the waves, his equipment, and his headspace.

-The surf yesterday at Cloudbreak was like Lower Trestles (his home break) on steroids. Slightly overhead groomed lefts provided the perfect canvas for Andino to repeatedly smash the lip and duck into some nice little barrels. It truly looked like the best day ever at Lowers, and we all know that the kid is pretty much unstoppable out there.

-"I've always been surprised at how much water some people throw that are a lot smaller than me," he said after his quarterfinal win over Brazil's Adriano de Souza. "I'm throwing a lot more water around with these narrow, knifey boards," he added. The ASP judges love when surfers throw buckets of water on their turns, and Andino was doing just that yesterday as he steamrolled into the semis.

– Andino turned to his best pal on the World Tour for help, and credited fellow Californian Nat Young. "I've just been watching Nat. He waits for a good wave and just surfs it well and doesn't fall," he said in another post-heat interview. That strategy, while it sounds simple, isn't always easy to apply in the heat of battle, but it seems to be working for both of the young Americans; if both Young and Andino win their respective semifinal matchups when competition resumes, we could see the first all-California final in ages.

After a runner-up finish at the recent Billabong Rio Pro, and at the very least a third in Fiji, Andino is skyrocketing up the WCT ratings, and a top-10 finish in 2014—his stated goal—is a very real possibility.

Watch the final day of the 2014 Fiji Pro live at grindtv.com/fiji-pro-live-webcast/

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