TRAGEDY AT PIPELINE: Tahitian Surfer Drowns

A picture-perfect morning at Pipe and Backdoor ended horrifically today when Tahitian charger Malik Joyeux drowned after hitting the bottom. He was 25.

At approximately 10:30 a.m., Joyeux took off deep on an 8-foot west set, made the drop, and tried to sneak under the lip as it pitched. The kid known for riding one of the biggest waves ever at Teahupo'o couldn't quite get under it in time, though, and the lip landed on him. Malik was wearing a leash. According to Aamion Goodwin, who caught the next wave after Malik’s, his leash either pulled off or Malik yanked it off. His leash was {{{100}}} percent intact when they recovered his broken board. The pack of water photographers in the channel immediately noticed that he didn't resurface. "We all started yelling and swimming toward the impact zone," said photog Russ Hennings. "But there was one more solid wave, and no one could find him."

The 60 or more guys in the water immediately thinned to about 10 as everyone scrambled toward Ehukai, looking for the unconscious Joyeux. Myles Padaca got to him first, then, with the aid of Kai Garcia and a dozen others, brought him to the beach. It's estimated he was underwater for seven to eight minutes. Lifeguards and paramedics worked on Joyeux on the beach, but could not resuscitate him. "It's just such a tragedy," said longtime guard Mark Cunningham. "And at Pipeline, it can happen to anyone."This year in particular at Pipe has been bad for serious injuries, with Tamayo Perry's 50-stitch scalp and Steve Clements' near-death experience. Joyeux, winner of the 2004 Monster Tube Award and renowned for his heroics in giant left barrels, leaves behind a huge group of family and friends. He was an adopted son among the North Shore community, and his universal stoke and endless generosity affected everyone he met. He will be missed.