Like father, like son: Like Michael, like Mason

Matt George
Swellnet Dispatch

Mason Ho hit the DNA lottery at birth.

Consider the bloodline that he shares.

Mason’s Uncle Derek was Hawaiian Amateur Champion at 14, he won the 1984 Duke Kahanamoku Classic with brother Michael finishing second. Derek Ho won the Pipeline Masters in 1986 and finished second in 1991. He won the Triple Crown in 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1993. By 1993 he was our World Champion, a two-time winner of the Pipeline Masters and a four-time winner of the Triple Crown.

Meanwhile, Mason Ho’s own father, Michael, is a true legend in the pantheon of surfing legends, with a list of surfing achievements that is breathtaking. By 1970, Michael was already the US Boys Champion at 12 years old. He took fifth place at the 1972 World Championships in Ocean Beach as a skinny 15 year old. That same year he started charging Sunset Beach, by now squire to Eddie Aikau, Jeff Hakman, Gerry Lopez, Reno, BK and the entire pantheon of 70s Hawaiian greats. Michael Ho was a full time professional surfer by high school graduation, long before Shaun and Rabbit ever busted down any doors. By 1975, at 17 years old, He was runner up at the Duke and the Pro Class Trials. During 1976 through 1988 he was relentless on the international pro tour, rising to third in the world rankings. He and friend Dane Kealoha were the Hawaiian spearhead for all the world to see, ripping from J'Bay to Bells Beach to Japan and beyond.

Michael Ho has been a five time Pipeline Masters finalist. In 1982 he won with a cast on his right arm, inventing the backside 'pigdog' approach to surfing. Micheal Ho owns thirteen Duke Trophies, is an eight time Duke finalist and has won it in 1978 and 1981. He is a four time winner of the Xcel Pro, two time Triple Crown Champ and George Downing says he will not hold the Eddie without Michael Ho in it, Michael being one of the few contestants to whom Eddie was a close friend.

Remarkably, at 40 years old, Michael Ho was the runner-up at the 1997 Pipe Masters defeating Kelly Slater in an earlier heat. He won the World Masters Championship in France in 2000. And in 2003 at Makaha, he damn near won it again. And don’t even get us started about Mason Ho’s sister Coco.

Which is all to say that it has either been very difficult for Mason Ho to live up to this legacy, or very easy for him due to his inherited talent. It certainly looks like the latter is true. No top pro surfer seems to have more fun in the surf. But do not let this energetic approach fool you. Mason is the real deal. Just go back and take a look at the giant Waimea wave he almost won the Eddie on.

Obviously the Ho Family’s legacy is in good hands with Mason. His father living proof that legacy is not about leaving something for someone, it is about leaving something in someone. The goal is not to live forever. The goal is to leave something behind that will.

We will all be known forever by the tracks we leave.


(All photos by Pete Matthews)


Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 16 Feb 2017 at 3:36pm

That was a cool story.

Brothers did the lot ,huh ?

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 16 Feb 2017 at 9:01pm

Michael was amazing at Sunset and probably still is. In the mid-late 70s he was surfing boards a foot or more shorter than anyone else, taking off later, coming from deeper and doing it all with such style that a lot of people never noticed.

Goodwill's picture
Goodwill's picture
Goodwill commented Friday, 17 Feb 2017 at 7:02am

Totally agre Blindboy, when I think of Michael Ho I picture him at sunset with so much style & what about them rail grab bottom turns at pipe with broken arm.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Friday, 17 Feb 2017 at 8:17am

Had always assumed Pops Ho was Hawaian but is Chinese / American.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 17 Feb 2017 at 9:06am

Got Hawaiin blood in him but the surname betrays the paternal strand of ancestry.

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Friday, 17 Feb 2017 at 9:47am

In an interview I did with Mitch Thorson, I asked a question about his reputation for surfing a part of Sunset know as The Colon; he answered by referring to the water man skills that he learnt from observing Michael Ho. By memory Mitch shared a house out the front for 6 years +/- and would observe MH paddling the lagoon and then finding gaps into the line-up and then talked about his ability to read currents and catch waves off boils etc. It sounded magical to me.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 17 Feb 2017 at 10:06am

And why we're recollecting...during the 2000/2001 Eddie Aikau ceremony Michael paddled Mason - who I'd never heard of then - out into the bay for the hands held in a ring thing.

Surf was tiny, I was standing on the rocks near the point watching them paddle back in when a set appeared out of nowhere and took out many of the surfers. Few had legropes and a number of guns wound up bouncing around on the rocks. I scrambled to save a few, urged on by the horrendous sound of fibreglass on stone - truly one of the worst sounds on Earth.

Amongst the material damage was Michael Ho yelling out to people to help his son before he got wiped across the rocks. He would've only been 10 or 12 years old and it was a heavy situation that he just managed to squeak out of.

I'd forgotten about the whole thing till recently.

Wonder if we can draw a pop psych conclusion about it? How Mason owes his infatuation with white-knuckle rock rides to a childhood event.

surfstarved's picture
surfstarved's picture
surfstarved commented Friday, 17 Feb 2017 at 7:17pm

The Ho family are an awesome and admirable bunch, of that there's no question. But this article is, in my opinion, a bit ho-hum (if you'll excuse the pun).

It's not telling us anything we didn't already know. It pretty much starts nowhere and stays there. It doesn't seem to have a point. I was left wondering "...and?". It's like an introduction to something that never actually got written. Is it a serial, or is that it Stu?

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