There’s always been that comparison between the way Gerry and I surfed, but we had never spent any amount of time together. The first time I hung out with him was in 2004. We had crossed paths many times before and had known of each other for a long time. We were in Indo filming for Waterman and both Gerry and I showed up late, and the boat was already gone. The rest of the crew had gone down to Thunders, and Gerry and I had to jump on a speedboat to catch them. We basically sat on a boat from sunrise to the late afternoon. It was just a small little speedboat and it had one little bench seat. We sat on that seat for eight hours straight. At the time, I thought to myself, “This is how you get to know someone.” We talked about everything and anything. I asked him about G-Land, Uluwatu, Padang—spots he had pioneered. Of course, there would be these awkward silences and I would suddenly think, “Gosh, I’m sitting here with Gerry Lopez, I could ask him about anything.”
We just went from one thing to the next, speaking about life and love and surfing. When we arrived at Thunders, the boat wasn’t there. They were surfing somewhere else. There were a couple of guys out so we unpacked our boards and paddled out. Within minutes everyone went in. We surfed these perfect little 3- to 4-foot barreling lefts with no one out, just us. There were no cameras. No one was watching. We were out there hooting each other into waves. When Gerry’s surfing, you can really just tell just how much he enjoys the actual act of riding waves. When you watch him surf you realize there’s something else going on there beyond what normal humans encounter—like he’s tapped into something that the rest of us are not.
Fifty years from now, Gerry will probably be remembered for his tube-riding, and the way he surfed Pipeline, but I think his contribution to surfing has been more than that.
He’s inspirational, not just in the way he makes difficult situations look easy, but in his whole act from head to toe, from sunrise to sunset. There is a relationship he has with riding waves and with being in the ocean, there’s that synergy between the two, and you can just see it.—Rob Machado