Big surf and Ho so good

Gary Kewley
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Friday - January 26, 2007
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Mason stands proud and $2,000 richer in the Hard Rock Café Junior Pro at Sunset Beach
Mason stands proud and $2,000 richer
in the Hard Rock Café Junior Pro at
Sunset Beach

Whoa, wave warriors!

What a BIG feast of BIG surf… especially if you got “Da Big Gun” skill and heart. We have four episodes of warning level surf in less than 10 days ... One on Tuesday (Jan. 23) and another slightly smaller swell on Friday (Jan. 26) and yet another on Monday (Jan. 29)! This will be followed by what some forecasters are saying will be “the one"for the Bank of Hawaii N.S. Tow In Champs.

Why all the BIG ones all of a sudden? Well, it really doesn’t happen as quickly as you’d think. First, we have to have some BIG storms in the NPAC (North Pacific). Second, they have to “track” (move) fairly close to Hawaii and, third, have gale force winds (45+ mph).

The key to what has made the last third of the month of January so consistently big is the lower position of the jet stream in the NPAC (30 to 35 degrees N. latitude). The jet stream is a large but narrow band of air in the upper atmosphere that moves around the Earth at relatively high speeds. Speeds in a jet can reach close to 200 mph with wind directions generally flowing from west to east. These large-scale winds “steer” the swell, producing storms our way, usually from off Japan - the lower (nearer) to Hawaii, the bigger the waves. The nose of the “jet” has dipped so low it’s touched us!

Why does this matter? There’s less time for the open ocean swells to decay. The general rule of thumb is waves lose half their height every 1,000 miles in their journey to the Islands. The storms we’re seeing now are coming under 1,000 miles close. This means little to no decay time ... which means GIANT SURF!

It looks like the Hard Rock Junior Pros got in their event just in the nick of time! Waves as large as we are now seeing “close out” Sunset Beach.

On Sunday (Jan. 21) the inaugural Hard Rock Café Junior Pro at Sunset Beach finished in high performance conditions (offshore 3-6 feet). These young men 21 and under are our future surf stars ... or at least that’s the goal. Thanks to Hard Rock Cafe, Reid Inouye and Turk Cazimero, a venue for Hawaii has been created in the format of the ASP World Tour “Qualifying Series.“There’s money,ranking and that all-important experience to be gained.

Mason Ho flies into first
Mason Ho flies into first

The winner just so happened to be covered by yours truly last week. No, I didn’t have a premonition that Mason Ho would win - he deserves recognition regardless. The article was titled “Ho Boy” and if you missed it, you can always catch up at MIDWEEK.COM under Sports.

You may recognize the name Ho - as in Michael Ho or Derek Ho, two brothers whose gift of surfing has been a gift to Hawaii. Just ask the Irons brothers if they’ve been inspired by the Ho brothers! It’s so special to see the Ho Dynasty continue.I’m pumped!

Mason has the character of a true champ: humble and respectful with passion and vision. “Now I can put this trophy up next to one of my father’s Hard Rock Cafe World Cup trophies. He’s won out here at Sunset Beach so many times, and to win one here, especially this contest being the first Hard Rock Cafe event since those days when my father used to compete, means a lot to me.”

At the Hard Rock press conference, Mason said one of his goals is “to carry the Hawaiian flag up the beaches of other nations.” His perennial smile belies his bold and broad intentions.

With the win, Ho pocketed $2,000 and an $800 MOBI PCS phone, and is now in Brazil to compete on the World Qualifying Series (WQS) tour of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP). A top 100 seed going into the international tour means he’ll be seeded into at least the third or fourth round of every event in which he competes. He hopes to gain his way into the World Championship Tour, the elite tour of the world’s best 44 surfers and which holds title to Uncle Derek Ho, Hawaii’s first-ever world champ in 1993!

As I wrote last week and reaffirm this week:“Keep an eye out” for Mason Ho!

From SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM, I’m GQ dropping in 4 U!

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