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Coco Ho counseled on surfing etiquette after 'drop-in' incident at Haleiwa

November 24, 2008 |  4:59 pm

Coco Ho in action during the Reef Hawaiian Pro.

Coco Ho, a 17-year-old Hawaiian aspiring to become a rookie on the ASP Women's World Tour, has been reprimanded by ASP officials for dropping in on Layne Beachley during Saturday's final of the Reef Hawaiian Pro, spoiling the seven-time world champion's chance at triumph.

The ASP today said it provided Ho with "a counseling session and orientation to the rules and the protocol of expected sportsmanlike behavior during ASP events."

Many will view that as too light a punishment for such a blatant disregard for surfing etiquette.

You may recall the incident: Time running out in the four-woman final of the ASP World Qualifying Series contest at Haleiwa ... Carissa Moore leading and Beachley needing a 6.83 to win ... Ho, out of the running, dropping in on Beachley and performing an aerial over the lip to thwart Beachley's attempt to earn a high score.

Moore, 16, and Ho are close friends. Both are Hawaiian. The only hint of criticism from Beachley, an Australian, was the comment, "That's what happens here in Hawaii."

But surfing fans and bloggers railed against Ho and what some perceived to be a case of one Hawaiian watching out for another.

ASP Rules Judge Robert Gerard said in a news release: "Coco is a fine young athlete and person and as a result of my investigation, notwithstanding the countless opinions being thrown about in the surf media and blogs, I am completely satisfied that this incident was the result of over-zealousness in the dying moments of a Final heat by a 17-year-old competitor who was simply trying to get a score and qualify for the ASP Women’s World Tour.

"I could go on in great detail about what was going on in Coco's mind at the time of drop-in/interference, but I am convinced that it was not directed toward harming Layne Beachley's efforts to secure a win."

Ho stated: "I feel so badly about this incident, especially since it involved Layne who I hold in such high regard and who has done so much for women's surfing.

"I have certainly learned a lot from this whole experience and I am stoked that the ASP did not just go by the rumors and the press, but worked with me and my coach and my family to make sure I got to apologize and use this as a learning tool.

"For me, I just want to look forward and be the best I can be and I want to do everyone proud including my family, my sponsors, Hawaii, my country, and the sport."

Regardless, the lapse in good judgment may stick with Ho a long time. A reputation as a snake can be difficult to shed.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Coco Ho in action during the Reef Hawaiian Pro. Credit: Covered Images/Vans Triple Crown of Surfing