Aside from ushering in the shortboard revolution, bringing the world behind the steely glass curtain and setting in stone the final word on surf elegance and style, Gerry Lopez has spent the better part of his life proving that it’s not just how you surf that counts, it’s how you live each and every day of your life. Today, three decades after his ascension began, his name remains an ongoing movement to surfers the world over, embodying the core principles of the surfing experience. Lopez did much more than master Pipeline’s savage tubes. He was among the first to venture deep into the Indonesian jungle where he unearthed some of the world’s best waves and helped set up the original surf camp. His first surfboard company, Lightning Bolt, blazed the trail for a billion dollar industry, and whether it was acting in Hollywood movies, being among the first to tow-in at Jaws, or raising awareness on behalf of our environment, Gerry’s always been there, seemingly tuned in to something special. With all that’s going on in surfing today we decided it was time for a check up with our spiritual leader, to get Gerry’s take on the pulse of our community.
Odd as it sounds, the king of Pipe and godfather of style, along with his wife Toni and son Alex, are residing in the hills outside of Bend, Oregon, but perhaps that’s to be expected from a ripened Zen master. As Bhudda concluded in the Dhammapada, The person who reaches the sacred, the inexpressible, Who has permeated his mind with it, Who is in control of his senses, Is one bound upstream. -Chris Mauro
SURFERmag: The name Gerry Lopez conjures up tropical dreams for those of us who grew up watching you, so today the obvious question is how did you end up in the hills of Oregon?
GERRY LOPEZ: Well, I hadn’t spent any time in the mountains growing up, so when my wife finally dragged me up there one day to go snowboarding I fell instantly in love with it. Today, you know, just being here with my family is as rewarding and satisfying to me as anything. We’re here full time, but I still get in the water regularly and travel a lot for surf trips.
SURFERmag: Does snowboarding having anything that compares to a tube ride?
GERRY LOPEZ: Air.
SURFERmag: But C’mon, you’re in your mid-50s, you’re not allowed to be getting air, are you?
GERRY LOPEZ: (Laughs) You’d be surprised. I’m not doing huge airs or anything, not in my dreams, but relatively speaking I’m always looking for the little hits.
SURFERmag: And you’re building a lot of surfboards up there?
GERRY LOPEZ: More than ever actually. I’ve got a little shop and a sweet shaping room. I’ve been on it for five or six years now, and it’s going surprisingly well.
SURFERmag: The locals up there must have been tripping the first time Gerry Lopez went gliding by?
GERRY LOPEZ: (Laughs) Oh yeah. You know. Despite the rep, the truth is the surfers here are really nice. They actually talk to each other in the lineup. I respect that and I respect them a lot, but I did too much talking about the North Shore and Indo, so as far as talking about the surf up here my lips are sealed.