Life has changed considerably since the sixties. We’ve got the internet, probes on Mars, 3D Printing, and a billion dollar surf industry. We’ve lost too many heroes to mention, lost reefs to tsunamis, lost innocence to corporate greed, and beaches to resort developments.
We’ve gained surf spots by the thousand, as technology has allowed us to explore the cold, and the intrepid have searched for and shared secret spots with the surfing masses.
Surfboards are made from carbon fibre and epoxy, rather than balsa, and four fins are commonplace, instead of one. The climate is hotter than ever before. Reefs are being bleached and we have great oceanic rubbish patches, reminding us how wasteful three generations of humans have been.
But while life and landscapes are in a constant state of transformation, some things will never change.
Like the thrill of facing up to big waves
Let’s take a trip back to the sixties, when men rode without leashes and could still claim to be the first to ride a spot, especially when it grew fierce. This is surfing’s roots and heart. The hellmen who saw a glimmer of potential in what others thought what madness.
These guys didn’t do it for the money. They did it to see if it was possible.
Pipeline Waves in 1964, featuring “Da Bull”, Greg Noll
By the eighties surfing had matured and a group of pioneers planted the seeds of what would become the World Surf League. However, big waves are big waves, and the fear factor remains constant. With improved equipment and evolving technique, the surfers began locking themselves into more dangerous positions on waves. Instead of racing from the barrel they’d weave the eye of the storm in an intricate dance with nature.
Watch the Pipeline Masters in 1984, featuring MR, Tom Carroll, Michael Ho, Shaun Tomson and more
Just over 20 years later the greatest surfing rivalry of all time, between Andy Irons and Kelly Slater, resulted in showdowns of mythical proportions during an epic winter season. Whether competing or freesurfing Slater versus Irons was the focus, and with such fierce rivalry came bravado, risk and reward.
Watch how the kinks in surfing have been ironed out (excuse the pun) by the mid-2000s. The surfers draw intentional lines that land then directly in the barrel, no racing for the shoulder. Kelly was already a Pipe veteran by 2006. Yet in 2016 he was still the man to beat.
Andy, well, he’ll be forever surfing Pipeline, with the contest in his memory and adoring fans, friends and family who will never forget.
Pipeline Waves in 2006, featuring Andy Irons and Kelly Slater