Derek Ho, a former pro surfer and world champion, died on July 17 at the age of 55, KHON2 reported. The outlet reported that friends of the famous surfer said he died of a heart attack on Friday afternoon. Coastal Watch reported that the surfer took himself to the hospital, where he fell into a coma and later died.
Ho was a legendary surfer who was best known for being Hawaii’s first men’s professional world surfing champion, in 1993. He was born in Kailua, Hawaii, on September 26, 1964, and graduated from Kailua High School. The former pro started surfing at the age of three and by the late 1980s, he was winning top competitions. He was a four-time Triple Crown winner, in 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1990. He was also a two-time winner of Pipe Masters, one of the most coveted titles, which he won in 1986 and during his 1993 championship season.
Ho Followed His Older Brother Michael Into the Pro Surfing Ranks & in 1993 Made History as the First Hawaiian to Win the World Championship
In 1993, Ho won the world championship of surfing, known then as the Association of Surfing Professionals and now known as the World Surfing League. Ho actually followed his older brother Michael into the pro ranks of surfing and for a few years, the two traded the Vans Triple Crown trophy. Michael won the Triple Crown in 1983 and 1985, while Derek Ho won the trophy in 1984 and 1986, and twice more after that.
The Triple Crown website lists Ho’s most incredible moment at Pipeline in 1986 “when he pulled into an eight-second tube that spit twice on him. He set the bar for extraordinary Pipe surfing.” The article continues, “If you ask young Hawaiian pro surfers how they want to win the Billabong Pipe Masters and Vans Triple Crown of surfing they’ll say: ‘Like Uncle Derek did in ‘86.’”
Stab magazine wrote writes that after the 1992 season, most had written him off and said he’d peaked. “He’s an artist who appears loath to butcher his style for a few decimal points more on the judges’ cards,” one journalist wrote, saying that Ho had no chance at a world title. That year, he won the Pipeline Masters contest and the entire championship. That would be the last win of his career, which ended for good in 1997 after a knee injury.
Many Posted Tributes on Social Media to the Former World Champ Following His Death
Legend never die 😔💔 RIP uncle D. Real soldier of the good vibes. Soldier of the sea. Love you guys. I will remember this vibe always pic.twitter.com/M3kbVai8ML
— Jeremy Flores (@floresjeremy) July 18, 2020
Many people took to Twitter and Instagram to post tributes to the former surfing champion. Ho’s friend and fellow pro surfer Jason Magallanes wrote, “I don’t even have any words right now except, baffled. I just surfed with you at goat island two days ago! We were talking 4 fin designs and placement… I cant believe I was just with you and now you’re gone, legends never die. You are now with your pops and all the other legends up there in heaven. LOVE U UNKO D. You will be forever my brother.”
Pro surfer Jeremy Flores wrote, “Legend never die. RIP uncle D. Real soldier of the good vibes. Soldier of the sea. Love you guys. I will remember this vibe always.” Photographer Erik Kabik shared a photo he took of Ho in January 2020, writing, “I captured this image of Derek in January 2020 when he competed in the Volcom pipe pro at Banzai Pipeline on Oahu Hawaii. On this morning there were no waves, so I didn’t get him surfing but I was honored to meet this legend and have a chance to snap a photo of him. He was a true inspiration to many.”