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November 7, 1948 |
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
|Years active||1970 -present|
|Quiver||Long boards, guns|
Lopez was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, grew up in East Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, and attended Punahou School. He frequented the semi-secret reefs in and around Aina Haina as well as better known surf spots in Metro-Honolulu. An early reference point for his sleek and precise style was the graceful Paul Strauch, whom Lopez still credits as "the most stylish surfer ever." Lopez became the Hawaii State Champ at age 14, and he and friend Reno Abellira began surfing Ala Moana Bowls frequently. It is here that Lopez began honing his casual style and masterful tube riding skills.
Lopez and friends began to migrate out to Oahu's North Shore, where they watched surfers like Butch Van Artsdalen and Jock Sutherland ride the hollow waves of the Banzai Pipeline. As surfboard designs began to integrate "downrailer" edges, curve, foil, and rocker, the vertical drops and thick tubes of Pipeline became survivable. Not long after, performance levels at big Pipeline exploded, led by Lopez. Quoted: "If you can buy it with money, it is cheap."
He was widely recognized as the best tuberider in the world, and won the Pipeline Masters competition in 1972 and 1973, which has since been named the Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters. In 1999, he was selected as "Waterman of the Year" by the Surf Industries Manufacturing Association (SIMA).
Lopez played an important role in the industry of commercial surfboard manufacturing. While 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; 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-hand pointbreak located in the Indonesian natural reserve of Plengkung, on the southeastern tip of Java. The nearest town is called Grajagan. The surfspot they discovered is known today among surfers as G-Land.
Lopez has also worked as an actor, appearing mostly in films by fellow ex-surfer John Milius. In 1982, he played the character Subotai 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.
In 2008, Lopez authored a book called Surf Is Where You Find It. 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.
Since about the early 1990s, Lopez has lived in Bend, Oregon, with his wife Toni and their son, Alex. Snowboarding has become a passion for both father and son, and Gerry is now applying his talents as a craftsman to making snowboards. His surfboards also remain in high demand.
- "Gerry Lopez Interview In LA Times Today". Retrieved 2010-07-13.
In the 70’s, Gerry was widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, tuberider in the world by winning the Pipeline Masters two years in a row.
- Baker, Jeff (June 28, 2015). "A life of sand and snow: Surfing legend Gerry Lopez is from the beach, but whether he's on surfboard or snowboard (in Bend), he's living the good life". The Sunday Oregonian. A&E section, p. 4. Retrieved 2015-07-03.
- Crowe, Jerry (December 22, 2008). "Surfing still shapes life of landlocked Gerry Lopez". Los Angeles Times.