Real Women: Coco Ho
Coco Ho is a princess -- if by princess you mean Hawaiian royalty, that is. She loves to dance, loves surfing in bikinis, but isn't precious. She also loves getting barreled and busting lips. She weathers quandaries of mortal consequence with notable strength. She has more Instagram followers than Taj Burrow. Her handle, XOCocoHo, is code for "hugs and kisses," which is what she'll shower you with if you're her friend. If you're her foe ... different story. She doesn't have many of those, though.
She laughs a lot. She finds Beyonce inspiring. Well, Beyonce and Andy Irons. She's part of a sisterhood, but she's also part of a tribe. She's currently the No. 7-ranked female surfer on the World Tour and is in the mix in X Games Real Women.
Coco Ho doesn't surf like a girl and she doesn't surf like a guy. She surfs like a Ho.
Coco and her brother, Mason, are the children of Michael Ho. Back to that in a moment. They are also niece and nephew to 1993 World Champion Derek Ho and grandchildren to Edmund, a veritable Hawaiian waterman who took Michael surfing at just 3 years old. Michael went on to become one of the first surfers who was actually paid to surf professionally. He ranked amongst the Tour's top 10 for 10 years -- straight. He won Pipe Masters five times, the Triple Crown twice, and the Masters 40+ World Title in 2000. He also received a spot on the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, Calif. in 2012, with Coco at his side.
Despite being born into one of surfing's royal families and living her entire life at Sunset Beach, Coco's first steps were taken on dry land. She walked on her own accord into surfing.
"I was fine with them doing whatever they wanted, but it so happened they both liked surfing," Michael told the Honolulu Advertiser in 2007 of Coco and Mason. "Now we're having fun with it -- all of us."
Coco credits her parents with her effervescent stoke, and for letting her find surfing in her own time -- which happened to be at the age of 7. "My first memory [of] surfing was going before school, on a new board I got for my birthday, and coming to class with wet hair and telling everyone I went surfing before school. I thought I was so cool," she explains.
It was a desire to impress Mason that originally inspired Coco, and making him proud is still (probably always will be) one of her goals.
Coco grew up on Oahu's North Shore surfing the "Seven Mile Miracle." She was sponsored at 8 years old. Like her father, she's a tremendous force in a small package. She qualified for the ASP Women's World Championship Tour at age 17. At the time, she was the youngest woman ever to qualify. She finished her rookie year ranked No. 4.
Coco says that when she was a kid, she wasn't aware of her father's legendary status in the surf community. When she got serious about competition, she had to ask him for serious critiques. "Uncle Mike" is notorious for his support of Hawaiian groms, but his clearly visible love and respect for Coco is the kind that every kid -- every person -- wishes for. At this year's Margaret River event, Michael served as his daughter's caddy, minding her spare boards in the channel as she charged six-foot Margies. Meanwhile, Mason rubbed elbows with sharks at the Box, a wave reserved for the extremely talented and the enormously foolish. Coco is keen to surf it at some point. She's not the latter.
The 2013 Tour started rough for her. She kept racking up the excellent scores, but somehow, she kept missing out on finals. She went to West Oz after a difficult defeat at Snapper Rocks, one of her favorite waves, and showed up to the fourth Tour stop in New Zealand and finished runner-up to Courtney Conlogue. She was ecstatic and palpably grateful.
In addition to unwavering support from family and friends like Laura Enever and Quincy Davis, her fan base is massive. Because Coco Ho is not a princess. She's a real woman. Her persistent positivity and progressive style appeal to just about everyone, and they make her a perfect representative of modern women's surfing.
Vote now for your favorite in the X Games Real Women contest and stay tuned to XGames.com to find out the judges' favorite and fan favorite during X Games Barcelona, taking place May 16-19.