Monday, May 4, 2009

lightning Strikes Twice...


by Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz

It was a chilly morning on the beach at "Zippers" in San Jose del Cabo, Baja Mexico. In the distance I saw a lone figure standing on the sand looking at the ocean. As I drew closer I recognized Gerry Lopez.

I walked up to him, put out my hand and he greeted me warmly, which pleased me very much. I'd known Gerry Lopez since he was a little boy, Maybe 9 or 10, when he was just learning to surf at "Baby Queens" in Waikiki. I knew his Mom who was a school teacher in Honolulu.

We stood there "talking story" for about half an hour, but all the while I was remembering those exciting days in the late sixties and seventies, when Gerry was known as "Mr. Pipeline" I recalled him riding with such grace and elegance on the wave considered to be the most dangerous surf spot in the world. Someone died at Pipeline every other year.

When we parted I kind of laughed to myself reminded of the time Jeff Hakman won the Pipeline Masters in 1971--the first Pipeline Masters. Gerry didn't even show up because that mongoose, Corky Carroll told him the contest was postponed.

Several special surfers had greatly influenced Lopez in the early days of his career: The "silky smooth" surfing of Paul Strauch and Jock Sutherland,deep tube rider who was the worlds greatest switch foot surfer. Sutherland had won the Duke Invitational in '67 and was known for having ridden big surf, Waimea at night. Jock Sutherland was also mentor to Gerrys' pal, the happy go lucky Rory Russell. Both had won the Pipeline Masters twice
in a row--Lopez '72 and '73, Russell, '76 and '77.

As Fate would have it, in 1968 when Rory was 15 and passionately in love with surfing his folks moved to the North Shore in a beach house right next to Jock Sutherland.

Jock informally guided Rory to become a master of the Pipeline, finishing in the championship, '73 to '78 third, second, second, first, first and second.

The symbol of the Pipeline in that decade was the Lightning Bolt. It became the symbol of the short board revolution ----the colorful emblem on the deck of goofy foot Gerry Lopez 6’-9” pin tail and goofy footer Rory Russells 6’-8” round tail. There was a Lightning Bolt logo on the boards of many of the North Shore champions: Mark Richards, Rabbit Bartholomew, Shawn Tomson and Lady Margo. And of course the great Jeff Hakman. As surfing historian, Matt Warshaw put it " board making label before or since has dominated the surf media the way Bolt did in the mid-70's.

Like his predecessor, Duke Boyd, the financial wizard of Lightning Bolt and Hang Ten, Jonathan Paskowitz, past marketing executive of the ultra successful Black Flys eye wear company is hoisting anew the ensign of the Lightning Bolt up the masthead of the present global surfing industry.


note : This article could not have been accurate without the help of
Matt Warshaw and his fascinating, "Encyclopedia of Surfing".

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