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    « March 2008 | Main | May 2008 »

    North Shore

    by Gerry Lopez

    The telephone rang on a lazy day, there wasn’t any surf so I was just relaxing on the couch doing nothing.

    “Gerry, this is Randall Kleiser calling, I met you once with John Milius, and he suggested I call you. I’m making a movie about surfing, and I’d like you to be in it.”

    I knew Randall had made some great movies that were very successful. “Blue Lagoon” was one, and I particularly liked another called “The Flight of the Navigator.” We chatted some more, agreed that a script would come to me, and after reading it, I would get back to Randall, who was spending time on the North Shore where he owned a beach house near Leftovers.

    The script arrived the next day, it was a quick read and, while it needed a little work with the pidgin dialogue and surfing information, it was basically a good story. A kid wins a surf contest in the wave pool in Big Surf, Arizona; his prize is a ticket to Hawai’i. He goes to the North Shore, gets creamed by the surf, gets into trouble with the Hui, hooks up with a local haole surfer who turns him on to a surfboard shaper and surf guru, learns the ropes, meets a beautiful local girl, finds himself in a rivalry with the top pro surfer, enters the big contest at the Pipeline …. Anyway, it was a story that was a little corny but still believable.

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    Gerry Lopez and Jock Sutherland - Talkin' Pipe Pt. 5

    by Gerry Lopez

    Jock Sutherland was my first and foremost hero at the Pipeline. It somehow seemed destined that my first time out on a small empty day as a sophomore in high school, Jock would paddle out and give me a key tip on how to surf the difficult place. It would be the beginning of a long friendship and a lot of waves shared.

    I found this opportunity to get together with Jock at the Cardiff store to "talk story" about riding Pipe a wonderful experience. To do it in front of over 500 people seemed a little intimidating at first but Jock and I go back so far that it turned out to be very relaxing and quite fun. I think our audience enjoyed the experience as well. Our perspective is unique because we were able to spend a lot of time at the Pipeline before it became so popular and so crowded. In those quiet moments, in spite of the thundering tubes, there is the space to reflect deeply about all that is happening around us and to come to some profound understandings about this thrilling and dangerous surf spot.

    Now the Pipeline is a household name, very familiar at least in reputation to anyone in or near the surf world. So whether or not our listeners are going to use any of our little insights or observations about the place, I think it was interesting to have us two old war horses telling how it used to be.

    [Visit the Talkin' Pipe page at to watch parts 1 - 4.]

    The Demise of the Ditch

    by Gerry Lopez

    Since it’s gone, I guess there’s no reason to keep the secret any longer. What we had was a pretty neat surf spot almost 200 miles from the ocean. For the last three years, it’s been double top secret. Even so, like everything else in the surfing world, the word got out. That’s why it got taken away. Too many people knew and were having too much fun.

    How does a surfing wave occur in the middle of the desert? Well I never would have believed it until I saw it. It starts with a long, cold winter season and lots of snow. Come spring that snow begins to melt, feeding the lakes and rivers, which are tapped for crop irrigation. Take a feeder canal transporting the water 50 miles away to a reservoir. Along that ditch are several features engineered to slow the gravity fed flow of the water. One of them is nothing more than a minor pinch on both walls combined with a slight drop in the slope of the bottom. Add the correct cubic feet per second of water discharged into the canal. Somehow this combination works just right at one particular site to produce a rideable standing wave suitable for a variety of watercraft.

    Continue reading "The Demise of the Ditch" »

    A Cool Cat

    by Gerry Lopez

    Surf heroes become recognized for accomplishments that set them apart. Kelly Slater and Andy Irons battled fiercely for world championship titles among a field of surfers of extraordinary ability. Laird Hamilton rode bigger and more dangerous waves than anyone had before, which paved the way for others to make their own big wave dreams and imaginations a reality. No one, surfer or not, could deny that Kelly, Andy and Laird are true-life heroes. Whenever I see a photo or film of any of them riding a wave, I am instantly mesmerized with open-mouthed awe.
    When I think about the surfers I liked when I was growing up, and the things I admired about them, I guess it was their style more than their accomplishments that set them apart. There was a guy named Paul Strauch, who was only a few years my senior, but he had a way of riding his surfboard that everyone admired.

    Continue reading "A Cool Cat" »

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