He was widely recognized as the best tuberider in the world, and won the prestigious Pipeline Masters competition in 1972 and 1973. The Pipeline Masters, recognized as the most prestigious professional surfing contest in the world, has been named the Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters for decades in recognition and respect of his deep and hallowed association with this legendary wave.
Lopez played an important role in the industry of commercial surfboard manufacturing. Whilst in Hawaii, and together with other shapers, Lopez started the Lightning Bolt Surfboards brand of high performance shortboards. Lopez created the simple but eyecatching Lightning Bolt jag and every surfer in the '70s wanted one. This brand was the first one to sponsor team riders with free boards, partially because many of the riders didn't have the money to buy them.
Lopez and friend Rory Russell were credited with exposing and validating Indonesia and nearby areas as a comprehensive surf destination. Starting with the long, ultra shallow reef tubes at Uluwatu in Bali, Lopez and crew explored the immense surf potential of the ancient island archipelago. The undisputed crown jewel of their discovery was a long, peeling, and dangerous left pointbreak located in a natural reserve of Plungkung called Grajagan on the island of Java. Lopez an friends said that all else before paled in comparison to this wave with its relentless, walling tubes, and groomed perfection reeling over some of the most dangerous reefs in the world. As he is in Hawaii and around the globe, Lopez is revered as a legend in Indonesia where he has mentored many young local surfers.
Lopez is also an accomplished thespian, appearing mostly in films by fellow ex-surfer John Milius. In 1982 he co-starred in the film Conan the Barbarian with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Other film appearances include Big Wednesday (1978), North Shore (1987), and Farewell to the King (1989). He has also appeared in numerous surfing documentaries, including Five Summer Stories (1973), Tales From The Tube, Step Into Liquid (2003), and Riding Giants (2004). Lopez is an ambassador for Patagonia clothing company and has written at least one essay for their catalogs. He also appears frequently in ads and catalogs for Rainbow Sandals, and is a friend of the founder of the company and fellow surfer, Jay Longley.
Lopez recently authored a book called: "Surf Is Where You Find It", and is supporting its 2008 release with a book signing and speaking tour. He and good friend Jock Sutherland also appear on YouTube in the Patagonia sponsored "Talkin' Pipe" series, where they describe their harrowing and sometimes humorous early experiences at the Pipeline.
THE BIG KAHUNA; SURF LEGEND GERRY LOPEZ REFLECTS ON MORE THAN 40 YEARS OF SURFING AND THE FUTURE OF HIS SPORT.
Aug 14, 2000; Born and raised in Hawaii, Gerry Lopez took up surfing in 1958 at age 10. By the time he entered high school, it was a sure bet...