Gerry Lopez, Photo: Divine

Gerry Lopez, looking oh-so-stylish at Pipe, almost a decade after he skipped out on the first Pipeline Masters. Photo: Divine

During the winter of 1971, the first ever Pipeline Masters was held, and Gerry Lopez, Mr. Pipeline himself, was notably not in attendance. According to legend, California's Corky Carroll duped Lopez into missing the historic competition by concocting a fib about the event being postponed, giving Carroll a better chance at claiming the title. At least that's how the story goes. But when we talked to Gerry about the first Pipe Masters, he told us he did miss the event, but not for the reasons we’ve been led to believe. Here's what Mr. Pipeline had to say about the day:

"Fred Hemmings and Randy Rarick got Continental Airlines to put up a thousand dollars for the first Pipeline Masters in 1971,” says Lopez. “I was favored to win, but there were only six guys in the contest and the surf at Pipeline hadn't been very good that year, so it wasn't going to be much of an event.

“On the day of the competition, I drove to the beach park—back then it was just an empty lot—and Corky Carroll was sitting in his car reading the newspaper. I walked down and looked at the surf and it was pretty bad. I walked back and started talking to Corky. We waited for someone to show up and nobody did, so he left and then I left.

“After that I went down Mokuleia and just hung out all day thinking the contest was off. Nobody had telephones back then to let me know the contest was, in fact, on. I was watching the news that evening on TV and they said, ‘The Pipe Masters ran today and Jeff Hakman won’ and I'm going, ‘What?’ and you know…I just missed it.

“Over time the story got out that Corky had tricked me into not showing up. Somehow that story really got blown out of proportion and it appeared in several surf films. Corky Carroll, at that time, was probably the strongest competitive surfer anywhere. He was crafty, tricky and knew all the rules. So he had this reputation for being a pretty dangerous competitor. As the years went by, the story got even bigger, and every time we saw each other, the first thing he'd say was ‘I really didn't do it!’ I tell people he didn't trick me, but nobody believes me. They believe what they want to believe.

“To this day Corky has to live down that reputation, which is totally undeserved. But he and I know what happened. He and I are better friends than we ever were and have had a long friendship since then."