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At face value their port­fo­lios look very sim­i­lar. Both are revered shapers and goofy foot tube afi­ciona­dos who be­came icons of the 70s and 80s. Sim­i­larly, they each as­cended to guru sta­tus at two of the world's pre­em­i­nent waves. Lopez will al­ways be the mes­siah of Pipeline, but close observers gen­er­ally give Grub McCabe the nod as The Lord of the Jun­gle in G-land.

De­spite the sim­i­lar­i­ties in their re­spec­tive re­sumes and their shared ex­pe­ri­ences at G-land, Lopez and McCabe took very dif­fer­ent paths in life. Gerry has al­ways had the aura of the whis­per­ing Zen master who el­e­vated him­self to a higher plane of con­scious­ness through his pur­suit of yoga, healthy food and the art of grace­ful wave slid­ing. With the ben­e­fit of slick US mar­ket­ing Gerry be­came a bank­able pin-up for al­ter­na­tive liv­ing long be­fore the likes of Rasta came into be­ing.

Con­versely McCabe is more an ex­am­ple of the Aussie every­man whose ex­cep­tional tal­ent is matched by a dis­tinct un­will­ing­ness to play self pro­moter. He's hap­pi­est when he has a beer in hand and is talk­ing story with a few of his Novo­cas­trian mates who call him 'Grub' in­stead of guru.

At the height of his surf­ing fame, Hol­ly­wood came call­ing for Lopez and he even­tu­ally played him­self in and Arnie's off­sider in Mean­while, McCabe wound up in a New Cale­do­nian gaol af­ter be­ing busted for run­ning drugs with Sven­gali fig­ure Mike Boyum. This is nowhere near the whole story for ei­ther of them, but it does pro­vide a snap­shot of how their lives di­verged af­ter the hal­cyon days they spent to­gether at G-land in the late 70s and early 80s.

When I first met Gerry he was out at Sunset on a moody, un­crowded day, nav­i­gat­ing a SUP with all the del­i­cacy and poise he'd han­dled his Light­ning Bolt guns in the Pipe glory days. In an hour and a half I didn't see him put a foot wrong as he swooped into late drops, ca­su­ally es­caped dredg­ing shut downs and deftly used his pad­dle to lever­age turns. It wasn't Gerry at Pipe but it was still like watch­ing a cat walk non­cha­lantly across the top of a half-inch-thick wooden fence.

With only a few peo­ple in the wa­ter, Lopez was happy to make small talk. Per­haps it's easy to pro­ject traits upon peo­ple but he def­i­nitely had that kind of oth­er­worldly pres­ence that gave you the im­pres­sion he was tapped into a di­men­sion that only a few had dis­cov­ered. When a set came my way he just smiled and ush­ered me in. At the time I re­mem­ber it feel­ing like the Dalai Lama of surf­ing had just blessed me with a wave.

I first met McCabe af­ter the fi­nal of this year's Sur­fest event, at the Beach Ho­tel at New­cas­tle. Matt Hoy and a cast of New­cas­tle's finest were chew­ing the fat and hav­ing a few ales with their mate Grub who was lament­ing the loss of sev­eral photos that doc­u­mented some of his bet­ter ses­sions. There is slim tol­er­ance for the pre­ten­tious in these parts and McCabe was def­i­nitely no ex­cep­tion. Noth­ing in Grub's de­meanour or lan­guage in­sin­u­ated he was try­ing to pass him­self off as a leg­end. He talked about his lost photos like a 1980s tradie who'd dropped his pay packet at the pub on a Fri­day arvo, not a surf­ing icon who had mis­placed an im­por­tant part of his legacy. There was dis­ap­point­ment in his voice but it didn't re­ally mat­ter be­cause he still had the mem­o­ries and his mates around him to talk story.

This month we bring McCabe and Gerry back to­gether in G-land, the site of some of their most mem­o­rable ses­sions. Not sur­pris­ingly they ar­rived with very dif­fer­ent en­tourages. Gerry was flanked by the likes of Rasta and Machado while McCabe made sure his best New­cas­tle mates were there to help celebrate his 60th birth­day and 40-year In­done­sian re­union. De­spite the in­con­gruity of the crews the sto­ries flowed and the grandiose G-land stage easily hosted the cast of le­gends.

Per­haps in a per­fect world one surfer would be the amal­ga­ma­tion of McCabe and Lopez. A tube-lov­ing yogi who can stand on his head while drink­ing schooners and en­thu­si­as­ti­cally shar­ing en­ter­tain­ing sto­ries about the Zen and now. Ab­sur­dist delu­sions aside, whether you were part of the Lopez/McCabe era or not, Dave Sparkes' story on the re­cent trip and sub­se­quent in­ter­view with Peter McCabe gives a com­pelling in­sight into what it was like to be a surfer when Indo's best waves were a play­ground for a priv­i­leged few, tigers still roamed the east Java jun­gle and Hol­ly­wood ac­tors like Bill Mur­ray made cameos at the G-land camp. Read­ing the fea­ture was enough to in­spire me to book a trip to Grajagan. I sug­gest you be care­ful when you pick it up be­cause there's a good chance you'll wind up with a case of jun­gle fever too.

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