Tragedy struck again at the world’s deadliest surf spot this morning when Tahitian surfer Malik Joyeux was killed at Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore. Joyeux, 25, a well-liked goofyfoot who recently came to prominence charging the treacherous barrels at Teahupoo, was one of approximately 60 surfers in the lineup on a sunny, six-to eight-foot Friday morning. At approximately 10:30 AM, according to reports from the beach, Joyeux dropped into a thick peak, fell backwards at the bottom and took the full impact of the lip. His broken board popped up soon after, but there was no sight of Joyeux. Sunset lifeguard Guy Pere later reported that Joyeux’s leash had somehow come undone or was torn off in the wipeout.
California’s Greg Long was one of approximately twenty surfers searching for Joyeux when he failed to surface.
“Right after he went down, I was on the Backdoor side of the peak, and there was a three wave set. He had gone on the first wave of the set. Immediately I heard everybody in the lineup shouting, whistling and waving their boards. There were about twenty of us that paddled in right away and tried to find him, but we couldn’t. Eventually half that pack went in and about a dozen guys came running down with swim fins searching for his body. When we found him he was up by Pupukea [approximately 250 yards north of the Pipeline peak]. We put him on a longboard and were just scratching and kicking to get him in. But by that time it had been about fifteen minutes. The lifeguards tried to do some compressions, but it wasn’t working. Then they put him in an ambulance and that was the last I saw him.”
Cause of death has yet to be determined, pending a coroner’s report.
Joyeux, an accomplished all-around waterman and one of Tahiti’s most popular surf stars, was recently featured on SURFER’s 2004 Big Issue Cover and won the 2003 Billabong XXL Tube of the Year.
At noon Hawaiian time, the shocked North Shore surf community formed an impromptu prayer circle on the beach at Pipeline in honor of their fallen Tahitian brother.
Interview w/ Greg Long:
by Brad Melekian
Surfermag.com: I was wondering if you could tell me what happened as you saw it?
Greg Long: It was about a three wave set and he was kind of sitting a little deep for this one, it was one of the west ones with a left on it. And he just paddled for it and I was kind of more on the Backdoor side, but it almost looked like he paddled a little bit too far in from where he wanted to be. But it still looked like he was in a good spot for it. So, I just saw him go and then I was looking at the next one, and then there was another bigger one behind it. After that there was a little bit of a lull, and I turned around and heard everybody yelling and screaming, waving their arms, and then right away out in the lineup, maybe like a half dozen guys started paddling over there. I caught a wave and I was there on the inside next to Bonga, and like maybe 20 more people paddling around just looking. I guess he wasn’t wearing a leash so that’s why it was so hard to find him. But it was weird because nobody even really knew for sure if he had in fact gone down. So it was freaky because it was like he could be on the beach, but there were like maybe 20-to-25 people swimming around, paddling, diving down, looking and then maybe half of them went in. So I was still out there, and then like maybe a dozen more people came running down the beach with fins and they all jumped in, and it was just one of those things where in between sets you could see the bottom, so you’d be looking around for something, and then when a set would come it would just be all wash. The guys who were there with fins kind of got sucked down pretty quickly, and then some of them started yelling and I saw them pulling him up out of the water. So someone grabbed a longboard and they got him up onto the board and tried doing a couple compressions on the board, but it’s really hard to paddle and do that. I was probably like the fourth person there and we just started shoving him in, and then there were like 15 of us kicking and paddling and pushing each other. And we got him far enough in, but then we kind of got caught inside of a wave in the last couple of feet, so we were just bear hugging him to the board. We finally got to the beach and got him up and started giving him breaths and compressions and then that was that. The lifeguards took over. He was probably under for at least 15-minutes.