Surfing World Mourns Loss of Hawaiian Legend Derek Ho

Jason Lock

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Updated 23d ago

Tributes are flooding in from around the world for Hawaii’s first ever professional surfing champion Derek Ho, who died on Friday.

Derek suffered a major heart attack and took himself to hospital, where he slipped into a coma and died late Friday afternoon.

The younger of the Ho brothers, Derek followed brother Michael into the pro ranks, where he became part of the big gun generation of the late 1980s, swapping wins and losses with the likes of Tom Curren, Tom Carroll, Martin Potter, Mark Occhilupo, and most dramatically Gary Elkerton, whom he pipped for the 1993 world crown.

“So sad to hear we lost another great soul,” writes Mick Fanning on Instagram. “Uncle D was always such a friendly and funny guy towards me. Full of life and quirky in the amazing HO family way. To see him still surfing places like pipeline as good as anyone at 55 is a huge inspiration. Your memory, legacy and character will live on and inspire many in the future. Much love to all the Ho family in this time. Love you.”

Yesterday, two time world champ John John Florence said: “Such a sad day for our community. Derek Ho has been someone ive always looked up to growing up, from being the first Hawaiian world champion to being able to get giant barrels at pipe in his fifties with his brother and family. I hope that I can be surfing out there smiling getting waves like he did when I’m that age with my brothers. Thank you Uncle Derek for all you have done for our sport and all the inspiration you have given.”

Ho is a four time Triple Crown champion — 1984, 1986, 1988, and 1990, and two-time winner of the Pipe Masters — in 1986 and his world title season of 1993.

His legend hood was built around his extraordinary achievements at Pipeline, where he was universally regarded as a top three all timer, if not the best ever. He’ll be greatly missed by the entire surf community and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends around the world.

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The man. The myth. The legend. Our hero. Words can never express what this man stood for and meant to all of us growing up here in Hawaii. From the first time I surfed #Sunset and #Pipeline 38 years ago until now #UncleD was always on the best waves and dominating. He always surfed more than anyone. Always so psyched. More psyched to surf than anyone I have ever met. Only #UncleMike and #Mason came close. Going to miss that smile and that #Mana. My Aloha goes out to the Ho Ohana. Love you guys. I’m always here for you. Love you Uncle D ! You always put a smile on my face. #FirstHawaiianWorldChamp #Hawaiian #KanakaMaoli #NorthshoresFinest #WaimanaloBoy #LegendsNeverDie #RestinParadise #AhuiHou

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Cover shot by Billy Watts