Gerry Lopez has always been the coolest.
He was the coolest when he was born. He was the coolest at schoolest. He was coolest when he had a greasy nose and a whispy teen moustache. He was the coolest when he dominated The Pipeline for five solid decades. He was the coolest when he played Subotai, Arnie Schwarzenegger’s badass sidekick in the 1982 Hollywood blockbuster Conan the Barbarian. He was the coolest when he moved away from his native Hawaii to the mountains of Bend, Oregon to snowboard for 26 years. Somehow, he was even the coolest when he started to ride a stand-up paddleboard.
Now at 70, Gerry Lopez is still the coolestest ever. Still shaping, surfing (off the SUPs though, thank God) and being eternally stoked out of his mind, he’s recently collaborated with Patagonia to bring back one of the style benchmarks for which he is most synonymous, ie: classic cammo, a design originally sprayed on surfboards to keep the hot sun out of his cool eyes.
In fact, we’ve got a pair of the Hydroflow Board Shorts in Tiger Tracks Camo print AND a Gerry Lopez ‘Now and Then’ board sitting in our office right now, and we’re giving you a chance to win both, thanks to Patagonia. But before we tell you how to enter and win (alright, scroll to the bottom of the page), take a seat for our chat with Mr Pipeline himself, as we learn a thing or two about staying stoked, the benefits of paddling and why the Terminator can’t make model aeroplanes.
5. Gerry Likes Poddies
“Podcasts are really great,” says G-Lo of the new long-form media taking the world by storm. “When you’re on a long drive they’re a wonderful thing to pass the time. I’ll give anything a go really, but the one I’m really enjoying at the moment is Scott Eastwood, Clint Eastwood’s son. He’s all about bettering your life and he has a lot of cool guests. It’s interesting shit.” (He’s too modest to mention, but Gez’s gotten in on the poddy action too, so go hit play over on Conversations From The Clifftop: Wayne Lynch and Gerry Lopez after we’re done here.)
4. Gerry Digs Alternative Waves
“The town of Bend is in the centre of Oregon, about four hours from the sea. We have a standing wave in the river and, no shit, when the water flows just right it creates a pretty damned good wave,” explains the Gezz man. “So, we’ve been building a lot of boards just to ride that stationary wave. Little tiny things. 4’6, 4’8”s, it’s pretty cool. There’s been a lot of discussion that the future of surfing may be in wave pools and there’s some validity to that, because we’re not finding any more surf spots, and yet we’re getting more and more surfers all the time. The good thing is, the wave pools are really starting to have incredible surf. I mean Kelly Slater’s wave pool is out of this world! But I tell you what, this standing wave we have in the river in Bend, once the water’s flowing… it’s free! I think those types of thing are going to become more and more popular.”
3. Gerry Has Gone Ice Cold on SUPs
“Surfing really is a beneficial thing,” says Geezy, “so long as you’re doing it. Nothing’s gonna keep you young, but surfing is as close as you can get to finding the fountain of youth. It keeps your mind young and helps you to stay pretty fit too. It definitely keeps you healthy and if you let it go, don’t surf for too long, it takes a lot of work to get it back. I’ve been up in the mountains for 26 years now and I never realised that I’d gotten away from surfing too much. I’d go on surf trips down the coast and have a good time doing it but when the stand-up paddleboard thing came along, that’s when I really let things slip too far. I didn’t see that I wasn’t going surfing as much anymore. Stand-up is like cheating, it’s a way of surfing for sure, and you can catch a bunch of waves, but it really is a different experience.
“A little while ago I went down to Mexico and I was still on the stand-up I started to realise ‘God… this big fat board sucks!’ because you’re really not doing a lot of surfing on it. You can go straight and do nice little turns here and there but on a surfboard, you can do a lot more surfing on that same wave than you can on the stand-up. So, I looked at my mate who was also on a stand-up and said, ‘Fuck, we gotta get back on our surfboards man, we can’t do this anymore. This isn’t right!’ We put the stand-up boards away and started surfing again and, oh boy… it was a battle to get back in shape. It was a long haul. It’s funny because you go through all this initial training body conditioning when you’re learning to surf and then you go through the same process all over again when you experience a surfing renaissance, like I did coming off the SUPs. I think what it really comes down to, is being out there in the water and paddling on a surfboard. I had an epiphany at one point last year because my mate had some issues with his leg and he couldn’t stand-up, but he’d come out on his surfboard and ride waves on his belly and have a good time. And I realised that at some point, none of us are going to be able to stand very well, whether that’s because of age or injury, but it doesn’t matter because it’s the paddling part that gives you the real benefits, while the riding of the wave gives you the motivation to keep paddling back out. It’s the paddling that’s really doing it for you, keeping you fit and healthy. You don’t have to stand up. You can ride waves on your belly. It doesn’t matter. Laird Hamilton is always saying the stand-up thing is really good because it’s an all-body exercise, well… in one sense that’s true, you get a bit more of a leg work out but, I tell you what, it’s still cheating. Paddling a surfboard is where it’s at. That’s what it’s all about. Man, those old Hawaiians knew what was up.
2. Gerry says Pintail Single at Pipe Are Still The Shit
“Riding a wave at the Pipeline, the way I want to ride it, I think those boards we were shaping in the 70s and early 80s are as valid now as they were back then. They were designed for a certain thing—to stick that late take off, come off the bottom, jam into the tube, hit the gas pedal and hopefully come out the other end—to ride the Pipeline. I think you could still do that pretty good on a single fin, pintail with a nice flat rocker. Pipeline boards are so different now. So much smaller and you gotta be really good to surf Pipe the way these young guys do. And you gotta be a lot better at surfing out there than I ever was. One thing will never change though—you can’t catch a wave at Pipeline on the shoulder. You gotta take off behind the peak if you wanna make a good set wave.
1. Gerry Says the Seedling of Cammo First Sprouted in Hollywood
“The Cammo print is best known from my days in G-Land with Peter McCabe,” explains Ain’t Nothing But a Gee Thang. “We’d spray the pattern on our boards because the glare from a bright coloured or clear board would just burn out your eyeballs. We had pretty good sunscreen and rashies and all that stuff, but the glare off the boards was fierce. I got the original idea while shooting the Conan movie with Arnold. There were a lot of times when there wasn’t a lot to do in between scenes, so we were making model aeroplanes and painting them with authentic military camouflage patterns. Arnold never made any, his fingers were too thick, but we’d sit in the trailers and paint the planes and I’d look at the wings and think, ‘Man this would look great on a surfboard.’ So, I sent a picture to McCabe (legendary Aussie shaper Pete McCabe is one of Gezza’s best mates and long time Indo travel buddy) and he actually made the very first cammo boards from that. He went out to one of the airforce bases and looked at some of the Australian Naval patterns that were really cool. Around 1990, we met out at G-Land and he brought those first boards out. I still have them. Eventually, with Patagonia, we adapted those sprays into a boardshort print. It’s one of my all-time favourite patterns. The shorts are much darker than we could ever do on the boards though. You’d never paint a surfboard that dark because it’d melt the wax. Looks really good on a shirt or a jacket though.”
Want to win 1 x Gerry Lopez ‘Now and Then’ board and 1 x pair of Patagonia Men’s Stretch Hyrdoflow Boardshorts? It’s easy, just click here.
Comp ends midnight, Wednesday 19th December AEST. Winner will be contacted by email.