Stab Magazine | Mason Ho’s guide to grovelling with style

Mason Ho’s guide to grovelling with style

Interview by Lucas Townsend | Photos: Dan Warbrick Get your knife collection dialed If I’m picking any boards to hit-out a grovel session, I always have a fun board; a fish, or a shape with flavour. It’s usually around 5’5” x 19”. I’ll always have an epoxy, because they’re easy to paddle and it’s a […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Interview by Lucas Townsend | Photos: Dan Warbrick

Get your knife collection dialed
If I’m picking any boards to hit-out a grovel session, I always have a fun board; a fish, or a shape with flavour. It’s usually around 5’5” x 19”. I’ll always have an epoxy, because they’re easy to paddle and it’s a different feeling from your normal board. If you’re used to normal PU, pull out your epoxy and take to the small waves. It’s a new sizzle, you can almost be a different surfer. I’ll have a normal board too, just to practice for these fucking contests. I wanna get on the CT and just screw with all these guys for a little bit!


Rock play is as ubiquitous in Mason’s online edits as his penchant for elevated spirits, around which this entire piece is constructed!

Paddle out in any conditions
Onshore versus offshore, go out in everything. I love it all, and you should too. Don’t limit your options, because the filthiest conditions can offer the best surfs with no crowds. I like really glassy, perfect looking waves, even if it’s super tiny. Even if it’s knee-high, with a few obstacles, and a really tight area, that’s my favourite.

Small wave speed starts with your arms
When I’m out surfing and it’s small I get super into it and paddle everywhere. Don’t stop. You’ve got to paddle super hard, so when you get up on your board you’ve already got momentum. With that initial speed you won’t have to work too much, and if you’ve got the right board it’ll work for you. It’ll be easy to do what your mind wants.

Here’s the easiest trick to look cool
It’s a no-look turn. I’m hooked on them. It’s like a no-look pass in soccer. Don’t look at where you want to hit the lip, almost pretend you’re going to let it go by and then at last minute, bang, hit it. It makes the part before the cool part look cool.

Link the combos
I use a manoeuvre to link my combos and I call ‘em wrong way ollies. Sometimes you want to keep the combo going and a chop hop is so easy because you don’t need a lip or anything. But that word chop hop is hated around here. So I started spinning the other way and for some reason everyone likes it. If I do a combo or two I’ll throw one of those in to keep it all going and link it to the sand.

Rocks are your friends
Finding obstacles in the ocean is the key to having fun while you’re grovelling. Usually its just rocks, they’re the easiest ones. Any kind of obstacles will work though. It could be a pipe in the water, or tree, or a person, or fucking anything you can play with while a wave breaks off it. Any kind of obstacle you can get is cool.


Grown-up surfing is overrated. It’s perfectly fine to have a forever young ‘tude when it’s waist high and lollypop fun. Just as Mason, who’s made it his raison d’etre (not to detract from his big-wave game). Here’s what you’ll need, and how to approach the smaller side of life with style.

Manipulate your mates because surfing solo is lame
Surfing with one or two of your friends is the best thing in the world. Now when I call my friends and tell them where I’m surfing when it’s small they say they’re not going to surf with me. They’re over it when the swell stops after winter in Hawaii. But get good at bribing.
I bribe my bud, Burger, with food. I’ll tell him I’ll pay for him to eat food after we surf. For my other friends, fuck, I don’t even know if I’m aloud to say what I bribe them with, but… yeah… I guess I’m kinda good at conning my friends.

Leashes are a drag on your style when it’s small
I try not to surf with leashes. It feels so cool being unhooked. Growing up my whole life, my dad would always speak pretty negatively about anything with a leash. There’d be super cool photos in the mag, or someone else or me, and he’d be like, “If that leash wasn’t there it’d be the sickest photo ever.” He’s been saying it since day one so I’ve learned not to like leashes. When you’re grovelling it’s the perfect time to ditch it. But, when it’s big don’t be dumb and put one on.

You can still have style when it’s small
As much as people can hate flat spots, I reckon it’s super fun. I’ve noticed it with my Dad first, he always had his back arm really high. Eddie Aikau and Duke Kahanamoku did it too. When I lift my back elbow up, kinda in line with my ear, it’s like I just start floating.
I get super into it and weird on that dead spot and just coast across it. If it’s real slow I’ll Huntington hop across it. When you don’t concentrate on that flat spot and worry too much about the next section you’ll sink right in the hole.

Going out surfing is better than not surfing at all
This is the biggest lesson, right here. I got lucky because my Dad and my uncle Derek are from the east side and there’s the flattest waves in the whole island. So I’ve learned to love knee high waves because they’ve always been so into it. All the gnarlier guys around here who only surf in the bigger size have always said, “I love how your Dad and Uncle Derek surf all these small waves all the time and have heaps of fun.” I’ve always grown up wanting people to be happy on me for having fun in these tiny waves. The bigger stuff is easy, it’s like that every day in winter. It’s the small stuff that no one surfs when I’m usually by myself that I love!


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

An Early Pipeline Exit For Stephanie Gilmore Amidst GenZ Glory

Day Two of the 2023 CT season was a clear notice that the kids are…

Feb 3, 2023

Hand-Shaping, Glassing, And Finishing ’70s-Inspired Displacement Hulls Will Not Make You Rich

Profile: Tristan Mausse of Fantastic Acid is in it for all the right reasons.

Feb 3, 2023

Hassling, Head-Dips, and Broken Apple Watches

The 2023 CT is underway. Here's what happened on Day One of the Billabong Pro…

Feb 2, 2023

Stephanie Gilmore And Filipe Toledo Are The 2022 Stab Surfers Of The Year 

Caity and Hughie take Best Juniors, “NOZ VID” wins best film, and Ho and Pringle…

Feb 2, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: The Stab Premium Vote

Day Ten: You voted, we counted.

Feb 1, 2023

Red Bulls, Crypto Bears, Former’s Six-Figure Fish, Tyler’s Multi-Millions And More

A brief catalog of the latest surf industry news and whispers.

Jan 31, 2023


“Definitely The First Time I’ve Gone Surfing Via Plane”

Parker Coffin, Harrison Roach, and friends tear through NZ on Roark's most well-rounded surf trip…

Jan 30, 2023

Pipe Preview: This Year Feels Different

With John and Gabs healthy — and the arrival of the femme next-gen — here’s…

Jan 29, 2023

WSL Tells Competitors: ‘You Better Like Them Apples’

Will mandating competitors to wear Apple Watches make the 2023 tour more or less engaging?

Jan 29, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: John John Florence, Italo Ferreira, Balaram Stack, Rolo Montes, and Shaun Manners

Day 9: "You can't do better than his year last year." - John John Florence

Jan 28, 2023

Full Moon Surfs, Impassable Puddles, And A Few Nights Spent Sleeping In A WSL Commentary Booth

A reader-submitted collection of nonconformist surf stories.

Jan 27, 2023

Kael Walsh Now Owns A Bitcoin, And Watched One Crypto Video

He’s officially your Stab Edit Of The Year champion.

Jan 27, 2023

Carissa Moore And Finn McGill Are Your 2023 Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Champions 

They both pocket $50k and tickets to this year’s Vans Pipe Masters.

Jan 27, 2023


The Pick-Up, Presented By Vans, Episode 5

Mason Ho helps us ring in our final week on the North Shore.

Jan 27, 2023

Goofyfoot Brazilian World Champion Stars In Stab’s Biggest Board-Testing Franchise

Can you guess who?

Jan 26, 2023

Surf Community Rallies To Raise Funds For Eddie Winner And On-Duty Hawaiian Lifeguard Luke Shepardson

Because it's the right thing to do, of course.

Jan 26, 2023

Interview: Caity Simmers On Machete Wars, Rihanna, Personal Project Problems, And The Rise Of Female Surf Content. 

A toast to ‘Toasted.’

Jan 25, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: Creed McTaggart, Albee Layer, Laura Enever, Dane Guduaskas, and Selema Masekela

Day 8: "65 years young and charging just as hard as ever at Pipe, Backdoor,…

Jan 25, 2023