This can’t be true, can it? Gerry Lopez is 70? Is 70 the new 40? Just look at him couple years back styling through little left tubes at Dr. Slater’s Maniacal Fun-Time Swim Pool like a man many, many years his junior. That’s not a guy pushing 70. No possible way.

But it says right there in his EOS entry that, in fact, Lopez was indeed born in 1948. Astonishing life the man’s lead ever since. Singlehandedly invented big barrel tuberiding. Made it look cool to not try to look cool. Grew an all-time mustache. Starred alongside Arnold Freaking Schwarzenegger in Conan. Was the hero outsider in Big Wednesday. The leader of Da Hui in North Shore. The wise sage of G-Land.

Then, boom, decides to become a mountain man, moves to Oregon, becomes a world-class snowboarder, bringing the same rubber-limbed non-chalance to his berm carves and glade runs. For good measure, mixed in some river surfing. Oh, and became one of the best SUPers in the world.

All of this without ever frowning, it seems. Yoga must be the answer.

You ever read Lopez’s book Surf is Where You Find it? It’s a charming memoir, filled with tales of the Hawaii of old, before the surf industry descended upon its palm-fringed shores in great neon hordes. One of the best moments is when Lopez describes the very first wave he ever surfed.

And this is what makes surfing so wonderful. Here is Gerry Lopez, undisputed king of surfing, top of the mountain figure in our culture, an emissary we’d be proud to send to other planets to explain the human race and why we play in the ocean, and his experience on his first ever wave is just like yours.

Here, read:

A wave came and my mother told me to get ready. She pushed the tail and the next thing I knew I was gliding along on a wave…I was overwhelmed with a sensation that took my breath away. It seemed like I was as free as a bird in flight…I had never felt anything so good before…I wanted to do it again.

So, in disbelief that so many years have passed, we say Happy Birthday Gerry. We raise a glass in eternal thanks.