Saturday, February 27, 1999
Photo courtesy of Reid Inouye
Myles Padaca works his way through a wave during
the HIC Pipeline Pro. He finished fourth in the final.
Ho shows he stillBy Greg Ambrose
has it with win
in Pipeline Pro
Special to the Star-Bulletin
The Hawaiian Island Creations Pipeline Pro completed its final day of competition yesterday in conditions that are every Hawaii lifeguard's worst nightmare.
The contest began in playful 3-foot waves that were replaced throughout the day by a rising swell that had 12-foot sets raging on Pipeline's third reef.
Fortunately, the only people in the water at Banzai Pipeline were Hawaii's best surfers, who made the tumultuous waves look safe and easy.
Derek Ho, who entered the contest as an alternate, demonstrated that his decision to retire from the world surfing tour was not due to declining ability. Ho found order in the chaos and prevailed against much younger opponents.
"Age is just a number, my brother has proven that way too many times," Ho said of his sibling, Michael. "He is still winning contests at 40, and I'm only 34, so there is still plenty of time. We're going to be seeing a lot more of this in the years to come."
The rising swell took the former world champion by surprise, and Ho was woefully undergunned on a 6-foot-4 surfboard more suitable for much smaller waves.
"I was out there over my head," he said.
Asked whether his victory was a statement that he can still surf at a world-class level, Ho replied, "My statement has already been made, whether I won or not today. I'm out here for the love now."
Ho's surfing spoke volumes to North Shore resident Pancho Sullivan, who finished just behind Ho in the final heat.
"It was pretty out of control," said Sullivan. "I was strictly looking at the lefts, because the rights were pretty closed out and death defying. But Derek got a good Backdoor right in the final."
Ho won $4,000 for his efforts, Sullivan $2,000, Mikala Jones of Sunset Beach $1,500 and Myles Padaca of the Big Island $1,300 for fourth place.