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A master at the notorious Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, one of the world’s most dangerous breaks, Lopez says he continues to surf “pretty much any time it looks good,” even though doing so requires making the four-hour drive between his home in Bend and the distant waves off Pacific City.
“It’s not the Pipeline,” he says, “but it can be pretty fun.”
Revered within the sport for navigating Pipeline’s treacherous barrel-shaped breakers with a signature soulful detachment, Lopez moved his family from his native Hawaii about 15 years ago after shuttling back and forth for years.
“When our son started the first grade, we kind of had to settle into one or the other,” Lopez says of his family of three, including wife Toni and son Alex. “So we tried Bend and we’ve been here ever since.”
Do other surfers find it odd to spot him off the coast of Oregon?
“They do,” he says. “I don’t.”
His son, now a college sophomore, prefers snowboarding to surfing, his father says, and Lopez frequently joins him on the slopes.
“I enjoy snowboarding a lot,” says Lopez, whose home on the eastern edge of the Cascades is only about 15 minutes from Mt. Bachelor ski resort. “But surfing is and always will be the foundation of pretty much everything I do.”