Kolohe was a wild card invite to Pipeline — he won't officially be on surfing's top pro tour until next year. He surfed well in what the announcers said were the largest contested waves in the history of the contest, but lost in Round 3. Kolohe earned big applause because on a day when Pipeline was snapping boards, dislocating shoulders and hammering surfers who hesitated on the long drop, the youngest competitor fearlessly charged every wave.
"It was wild out there," Andino said. "It's not like back home. But I got a lot of experience for next year."
Two decades have passed. Sons have replaced fathers. What hasn't change are the waves. The ones then-Surfer magazine editor Steve Hawk said in 1991 demanded surfers "be at your best or they'll punish you." What Jon Coen of ESPN in 2011 called "surfing's ultimate humbler."
That's what will bring this hodad back.
IF YOU GO:
Pipe Masters: The North Shore surf season runs from about October to March. In summer, the waves are flat. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing will be held Nov. 14 to Dec. 20, 2012. It includes three events, culminating with the Billabong Pipe Masters Dec. 8-20. Check out vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com.
"The Eddie": The waiting period for the 2011 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau officially comes to a close at the end of February 2012. The waiting period for the 2012 event will be Dec. 1, 2012 to Feb. 28, 2013. The event is only held if waves reach 20-feet at Waimea Bay in clean conditions. Check it out at quiksilverlive.com/eddieaikau/2012
February surf event: If you can't wait for the Pipeline Masters in December, check out the Volcom Pipe Pro 2012, held Jan. 23 to Feb. 4. Register surfing blogger Laylan Connelly reports Orange County surfers who will compete include Kolohe Andino, fellow San Clemente surfers Tanner Gudauskas, Chris Ward, and Nate Yeomans, Ian Crane, Richie Collins, Brad Ettinger, Timmy Reyes, and Taylor Thorne. Go to volcompipepro.com
Getting there: The Banzai Pipeline is located just off Ehukai Beach Park, on Kamehameha Highway east of Waimea Bay and west of Sunset Beach. It takes about an hour to cover the 40 miles from Waikiki when traffic cooperates, which is not often. Give yourself 90 minutes. There's limited parking at the lot — you can usually find it on non-contest periods, but for Pipeline Masters, be prepared for a long walk after parking somewhere along "Kam" Highway. There's a nice shady walk along the old bike path. Make sure not to park over the bike path when it runs along the road — or you'll get a ticket. Likewise, if you park in the elementary school across the street.
Where is Pipeline? From the grass area of the Ehukai Beach Park, Pipeline is down to your left about 100 yards. There are two surf breaks at the location. Pipeline is the left break that moves from left to right when seen from the shore. The right break that moves from right to left is called "Backdoor" or sometimes "Backdoor Pipeline." When the waves are very large, a second tube is created further out, called "Outside Pipeline."
The basics: There are bathrooms, showers and water fountains at Ehukai Beach Park. During contests, food trucks sometimes stop by. But at other times there is no food sold at the site. Bring your own food — my favorite spot is Ted's Bakery, 59-024 Kamehameha Hwy., near Sunset Beach. They're online at tedsbakery.com or you can phone 808-638-8207. They open at 7 a.m. Surfers get up early, so get there early before the best pastries sell out. Ted's also serves plate lunches in the afternoon.
What things are called: Just about everything on the North Shore has a Haleiwa mailing address, but the town is only at the far west end of the surfing area. The Turtle Bay Resort (turtlebayresort.com) is considered the far east end. It's the only hotel on the North Shore. If you are looking for spots other than Waimea Bay, it's best to get a map available at most surf shops and in Waikiki at ABC Stores and other spots.