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    Gerry Lopez and Jock Sutherland - Talkin' Pipe Pt. 6

    The Talkin' Pipe video series concludes with Gerry and Jock riffing on Kelly Slater and Backdoor. If you're new to the series, visit the Talkin' Pipe page at to watch parts 1 - 5. And while you're there, consider picking up a copy of Gerry's new book Surf Is Where You Find It.

    Gerry Lopez book Sadly, this is the last video in the series. Our thanks go out once again to Devon Howard and the crew at Patagonia's Cardiff Surf Shop for hosting the event and sharing this footage. To get on their event mailing list, contact Special thanks as well to Gerry and Jock for making the trek to Cardiff, and to Jeff Divine and Surfer Magazine for the amazing photos.

    [Big shoutout to Amy Williamson for filming the event. Thanks Amy! Sorry for the typo in the credits.]

    A Big Score

    by Gerry Lopez

    Yesterday I scored big. It was one of those rare days which left me so pumped up when it was over I knew I was going to have trouble falling asleep last night. [Editor's note: This story was originally written in November 2007] I figured I better write it down before the afterglow faded, and later I could savor it again. One of the sad things about surfing is that the best memories are fleeting. Before one knows it, they have all but disappeared, erased like they never existed. Sometimes when the focus is so intense, the concentration so great, it seems as though they don't even get recorded.

    Many times I have finished a wave to find a blank space in my mind about what just occurred during that ride. Although peculiar, it happens with great regularity. By carefully recalling the few moments of actual thoughts, like the decision to catch that wave, or maybe an incident like someone in the way or a person yelling, I may be able to piece together the whole ride. But often as not, should there be some distraction, like another set coming, or just not having that momentary space to reflect back, then that ride may as well be gone. It did happen, and how it unfolded possibly went into one of those many file cabinets of the mind, but the key to access that drawer is lost. Even as I sit here and write only a day afterwards recollection of those waves has begun to go hazy.

    Continue reading "A Big Score" »

    The Buddy

    by Gerry Lopez

    Except for his rather large collection of blues records, there were not, in a material sense, a lot of other things Buddy Dumphy considered important or worthy of much thought. Even his surfboards were considered transient – tools to be used and sometimes abused – only stepping-stones to the next board.

    We first met as teenagers at Ala Moana, where surfing was our life. Before we were old enough to drive, Buddy with his younger brother Michael, and me with my younger brother Victor, would get dropped off in the parking lot at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. There we would spend the long summer days riding the waves and watching the action.

    The surf was the reason we gave our parents for being there, but the main attraction was really the scene and the other surfers. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Ala Mo’s was the spot, the epicenter of progressive surfing during Hawai’i’s summertime surf season. The top island surfers would invariably gather on any hint of a south swell to match their wave riding skills with the challenging walls. The long, fast and hollow surf produced the best surfing, and everyone knew it. Only the most talented or dedicated – and perhaps young aspiring surfers like us – would dare to show face at Ala Moana. The rest would ride the lesser breaks of Rockpiles, Kaisers or the Park until they developed their confidence and abilities. Our own skills were much less than our bravado, but by keeping our heads down and our mouths shut, we were tolerated by the older crew.

    Continue reading "The Buddy" »

    Inside the Tube

    by Gerry Lopez


    I have been asked many times what it’s like being inside a tube. My short answer is simple, “it’s great.” The long answer is quite a bit more involved.

    To get inside a tube long enough to have time to think about what it’s like requires a long list of factors. Luck is first on the list, especially in the early stages of a surfing career. Still, even experienced surfers feel lucky after a good tuberide.

    [Photo: Branden Aroyan. See more of Branden's photography at Low Tide Rising.]

    But more than anything, tuberiding is a result of a great deal of dedicated practice, lots of paddling and much time spent in the water. If half that time had been given to the pursuit of education or work – well that’s what a parent would say. But to a surfer there is no greater sense of accomplishment or fulfillment than a successful tuberide.

    One key ingredient is the wave. Not all waves form the tunnel necessary for a tuberide. I was fortunate to have two surf spots available when, after 10 years of surfing, my skills were sufficient that I could make a conscious attempt at riding in the tube.

    Continue reading "Inside the Tube" »

    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.

    Continue reading "North Shore" »

    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" »

    Terror at Jaws

    by Gerry Lopez

    [Editor's note: In honor of his new book Surf Is Where You Find It, we're stoked to have Gerry Lopez sit in as guest editor. Stay tuned for seven days of stories from one of surfing's finest.]

    As I hurried towards the baggage claim at the airport in Kahului, Maui, I noticed the stillness and the very warm air with a distinct salty taste to it. Only Kona winds from the south produce these conditions. I recognized the salty taste. It was mist that is only there when the surf is huge. I knew I would be getting some good waves the following morning.

    I had flown from Oregon to Maui where my brother, Victor, was to pick me up at the airport. I quickly collected my bag and headed outside to look for my brother’s car. Victor, whose wife Terry has been a stewardess for over 25 years, is a veteran of airport pickups; he was rolling up to the curb just as I came out the door. I bundled my luggage into the back of his pickup truck and jumped into the front seat so we could quickly exit the airport mess and head home.

    “Howzit brudda!” I said. We greeted each other with a brief hug across the steering wheel as Victor put the car in gear and off we went.

    “So how’s the surf?” I asked. This is question one, always.

    “Good” he answered, “Kona winds all week.”

    But I immediately sensed something was wrong. He had this faraway look in his eyes like the thousand yard stare that we became familiar with when our friends returned from their tour of duty in the Vietnam War.

    Continue reading "Terror at Jaws" »

    Gerry Lopez and Jock Sutherland - Talkin' Pipe Pt. 4

    The Talkin' Pipe video series continues with Gerry and Jock reminiscing about the Expression Session of 1970. Definitely some classic stories in here. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 are available for those new to the series, and there's more to come.

    Thanks again to Devon Howard and the crew at Patagonia's Cardiff Surf Shop for hosting the event and sharing this footage. To learn more, or to get on their event mailing list, contact

    Special thanks to Jeff Divine and Surfer Magazine as well. If you want to trip out on more surf shots from psychedelic '70s check out Jeff Divine Surf Photography.

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