Mr. Guerrero. Photo: Honolulu Pulse
Split Peak Soup’s ongoing “Know Your Announcer” series features the men and women behind the mic at all of your favorite WSL competitions. We’ve caught up with big wave hell-man Pete Mel, Brazilian stoke ambassador Andre Giorenelli, and now, in the thick of Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing on the North Shore of Oahu, we’re giving you insight into the mind of Hawaiian webcaster Kaipo Guerrero’s mind. I remember seeing Kaipo in the blowing up in the magazines and Bud Tour features on T.V. back when I was first learning to surf. Now, Kaipo’s smoothly transitioned from pro surfer to one of the few local Hawaiian voices interviewing the pros and calling the shots when the World Surf League comes to the “Aloha State”. And he does it so well! It’s good to have Kaipo and Rocky Canon representing the “brown bruddahs” in a overwhelmingly Caucasian webcaster lineup (O.K., Ross Williams is from Hawaii, but you get my point). Here’s what the humble Hawaiian had to say….
In the back of my memory I remember seeing you either in surf magazines as a writer or sponsored rider….can you refresh my memory as to how people might remember you (pre webcasting)?
I was Hawaii State champ, NSSA open champ, Hawaii Team member for worlds, 3 US champ finals and 3 years top 16 Bud Pro Tour. I quit pro surfing at 24 to take a job with my then time sponsor, Body Glove.
Kaipo’s 80’s fluorescent fin ditch Photo:@kaipoguerro
How long have you been surfing and who taught you/where?
I learned to surf in Waikiki. Both my father and grandfather were surfers. I spent a lot of young years with Waikiki beach boys and paddled for Waikiki Surf Club.
Beach Boy roots runnin’ strong
What are some of the lessons that surfing in the powerful waves of Hawaii as a youngster? What about lessons of Hawaiian culture that remain important to you today?
Basically in Hawaii I try to understand the water and move with it. Noticing currents, channels, bone yards, and escape area; I had a lot of help from other surfers teaching and supporting me. As a Hawaiian I feel it is important to perpetuate our culture. I am a graduate of the Kamehameha schools. I moved back to Hawaii a little over 10 years ago because with a new family I wanted my kids to know Hawaii and their culture so they can continue with it.
Kaipo and his beautiful family. Photo:@kaipoguerrero
Can you recount how you became involved in the Triple Crown webcasting? Did you have to try out for the job, or did it fall in your lap unexpectedly?
Ed D’Ascoli from Xcel asked me to announce Xcel Pro at Sunset and that was my big break. I had announced the Xcel Pro for a couple of years, as well as the HASA amateur events, when Randy Rarrick called me and asked if I wanted to work on the Triple Crown. I was so stoked, so of course I said yes!
Guerrero in the field, with Aussie upstart Jack Robinson. Photo:WSL
The Triple Crown is a huge deal to a lot of surfers. What do you think makes the series so prestigious and desirable for competitive surfers?
The Triple Crown is so crazy because the venues are incredible waves, with all the best surfers from around the world competing. Everyone is watching and the performance level gets pushed up by having powerful waves,warm water and all the best guys ripping. There is a buzz in the air. In Hawaii it is peer approval that is important; fan approval is secondary. Back to back events. Big waves. Winds. Crowds. 7 miles of coast. A giant gathering of surfers. The perfect recipe for drama and spectacle!
Pipe, the ultimate proving ground
If you come to Hawaii to compete, what aspects of your surfing do you feel like you need to showcase to the judges to win heats?
You have to be adaptable for Haleiwa. You have to surf big for Sunset. You have to charge and ride the barrel well at Pipe.
Who are some of the young Hawaiians on tour that you are very proud of?
Since I work with the amateur ranks I am proud of every Hawaii surfer that I watch come to the pros. Josh and Seth Moniz. Zeke Lau. Keanu Asing. Mason Ho. Billy Kemper. But there are so many more coming up. The 11 and 12 year old crew right now are crazy good.
What kinds of traditional Hawaiian ocean activities interest you as well?
I really enjoy paddling SUP and canoe. My father is a great canoe paddler with multiple Molokai race wins and former member of Polynesian Vouyaging Society (Hokulea). I have 4 Molokai crossing under my belt. Canoes (Wa’a) are very important to Hawaiians.
Man of many talents. Photo:Mana
The North Shore becomes a bit of a circus during the winter. Do you welcome this influx, or is there a sense of bitterness of being invaded during the prime time season for surf. I ask this because Santa Cruz has become a war zone in the water, yet it’s a huge part of our economy.
Its human to get mad at crowds or feel a bit entitled. But the positive economic result is a good thing. I do believe in respect in the water and surfers surfing breaks appropriate to their skill levels.
What changes would you like to see the WSL make as far as allowing Pipe specialists like Danny Fuller to showcase their skills? Or are you happy with the current format and other opportunities like the Volcom Pipe Pro?
Local trails is an answer for non rated surfers but if you call yourself a pro surfer you got to surf a couple comps to get on the rating radar. Danny Fuller, for example, did surf a WQS in Chile to get in Xcel Pro, then he won the comp in his home waters.
He’s still got it! Photo:@kaipoguerro
Anything else you’d like to add? Or shout outs?
I just feel lucky to be involved in and still be able to make a living working in surfing because, basically, surfing was my first job out of high school. I am a territory manager for Surf Hardware and Rip Curl. Both companies make such great products to enhance everyone’s surfing experience and I’m stoked to represent them. Working events is an occu-passion (part occupation part passion).