GERRY LOPEZ BY ROB MACHADO
My first memories of Gerry were images from magazines. I had a poster of Gerry on my wall and I remember it as clear as day. Gerry standing in the tube perfectly poised waiting to get blown out with the spit. This shot generated so many emotions for me. It was late afternoon and one of the most beautiful back-lit images. It was the last thing I saw before I went to sleep and the first thing I saw when I woke up. It scared the shit out of me. I never thought I would ever ride a wave even close to that. Then there were the movies. The local theatre that played all the surf movies is called La Paloma. Whenever a new movie came out I was there. It was hectic. People screaming and yelling. I was super young but I remember seeing some old 16mm footage of Gerry getting blown out of tube after tube at Pipe and just being in total awe. He made it look so easy. I think after watching someone surf for any long period of time, it's going to have an effect on you. Whether you know it or not. It's kinda like guitar players ... you listen to Hendrix long enough and it’s only natural that you want to try and play like him. It obviously doesn’t always pan out that well, but growing up and watching Gerry definitely effected the way I approached waves. I don't think you realise it at a young age. It's more on a subconscious level. As you get older, you really start to understand things more clearly. Gerry's surfing is pure. There’s no unnecessary movements. If you think about the generations before Gerry and the generations before that ... surfing was purely based around style and your ability to surf good under intense situations and look super cool and relaxed doing it. Gerry took that approach into the short board revolution and into one of the heaviest waves in the world: Pipeline. There's so many amazing images of Gerry at Pipe. There is one shot that is so cool. It was at the end of his love affair with the Pipeline and he must have been in his 40s. He got a crazy second reef double up that just went nuts on the first reef. A really big first reef one. The scary ones. He was riding for Gotcha, had a yellow and green board, so early 90s. It might have been one of the last crazy waves that Gerry rode at Pipe. I didn't know Gerry very well until 2004 when we both went on a boat trip in the Mentawais. Gerry and I had to sit on a boat together for eight hours while we crossed the Mentawai Strait. No one else. Just us – staring at an open ocean with nothing but time. We talked about everything. I asked every question I could think of from Pipeline to G-land to snowboarding to yoga and meditation. One topic led to the next and on and on. After that boat ride, our friendship was born. After crossing the strait we arrived at this perfect little left and there was no one out. The boards couldn't come out of the bags fast enough. We surfed together for a few hours with not another soul in the water and not a camera in sight. We hooted each other into waves and laughed the whole session. It was magical. Over the past 10 years our friendship has grown and I'm stoked to be able to call him my friend and a mentor.