Follow The Line
Who could’ve possibly influenced one of the most influential surfers of all time?
Perhaps no other surfer has ever had more influence on the world of surfing than Gerry Lopez. Throughout the 70s and 80s, Lopez ruled “The Pipeline” (as he refers to the world’s most famous break) with more style and grace than anyone had ever seen before. His exploration of Indonesia in the mid 70s led to the discovery of Grajagan and filled surfers’ heads with visions of endless lefts, perfect tubes, and jungle living. Never one to rest on his laurels, Lopez was at the Maui forefront of tow-in surfing at an age when most surfers are content to ride a longboard and just cruise, instead of putting their life on the line. He also pioneered the surf-business market, with his involvement in Lightning Bolt Surfboards, one of the most successful and recognizable companies in the early days of the corporate world of surfing. Lopez acted with the current governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the film Conan The Barbarian and also in Return Of The King with Nick Nolte. It’s fair enough to say that Lopez, who now resides in Bend, Oregon, has done it all.
Yet who influenced him to become one of the most legendary surfers of our time?
“Paul Strauch,” says Gerry Lopez from his home 250 miles inland from the cold North Pacific Ocean. “He was the best surfer on the island, and we all really looked up to him.”
History lesson kids: Paul Strauch, a half-Hawai‘ian goofy-foot who was born and raised in Waikiki, invented the maneuver known as the Cheater Five, which is used as a means to increase speed while trimming. To perform a Cheater Five, a surfer puts his front foot right up to the nose of the board while riding tight in the pocket. While nowadays this may not sound like the most radical maneuver, remember this: Strauch was doing it at macking, ten-foot Sunset without a leash and on far-from-modern equipment. Strauch also pioneered big-wave riding at spots like Makaha and other less-publicized spots where he would shun the crowds of Waimea for a chance to ride alone and perfect his patented “take off straight, and then punch a powerful bottom turn to make the section” routine. As a member of the prestigious Duke Kahanamoku Surf Team in the mid 60s, Strauch was a critical link to the past and often escorted and assisted Kahanamoku as he grew old.
Follow the line: Duke Kahanamoku, Paul Strauch, Gerry Lopez–true legends and influences of our sport.–J.C.