Hawaii Surfers Surfing Past 60
Silver Surfers: Meet five surf legends who, in their 60s and 70s, still hit the beach.
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When not snowboarding or traveling out of state, Lopez frequently gasses up his RV and drives the 200 miles from his home in Bend to the coast for his SUP surfing fix. “I go out in just about any conditions,” he says. “I like it when it’s big, but, yeah, I’ll go for anything. At this point in my life, my standards have slid.”
His appreciation for the surfing, though, is stronger than ever. “I always say the first 20 years of surfing was kind of like a little test to see if I was really interested, and it was only after that when I started to see the depths of what surfing has to offer and how large it really is, how complete, how much there is to learn from it,” he says.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lopez made a name for himself as the best tube rider in the world at the Bonzai Pipeline—he’s actually called “Mr. Pipeline.” He had taken up yoga in 1968, and it had a profound and noticeable influence on his surfing. The camera loved his grace-under-pressure style, and the lyrical cinematic montage of Lopez at Pipe turned up in so many ’70s surf flicks it became a genre convention. Lopez also acted in a few Hollywood movies, including a co-starring role beside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian.
Lopez frequently gets back to Hawaii. He has made five trips in 2011 (one to compete in the Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championship) and he planned to be back this month to do commentary for the Billabong Pipe Masters, a surfing event once known as the Chiemsee Gerry Lopez Pipe Masters. “It’s a great excuse to go surfing,” he says.