Last Friday, surfing lost an icon. World champ and four-time Triple Crown winner Derek Ho died at 55 of a heart attack in an Oahu hospital. The social media tributes have been many since, grateful and heartfelt – all with appreciation for having known not only a fantastic surfer, but a great soul.
Gerry Lopez paid tribute to Derek on Instagram by sharing a cool story of getting locked into a Pipeline bomb with the North Shore icon in 1991 (photographer Paul Cohen captured the whole thing). The two were sitting at different spots in the lineup during a huge swell – Gerry at second reef, Derek further inside – when they picked off the same wave and got nearly covered up together at a big day at Pipe. Gerry’s story is below, part of the greater celebration of a fantastic life that was:
This wave was during the most amazing swell I’ve ever seen at the Pipeline. It started, if I recall correctly, on September 2, 1991. That day was a solid 10’+ with 30 wave sets and almost no lulls…it was worth your life just trying to paddle out. The next day was 10′-15′ with cleanup sets rolling through from the 2nd reef…luckily it wasn’t quite as consistent as the day before just bigger. Day 3 was about the same and I believe this wave was from then. The lineup outside is indefinite, basically I’d see one go through that looked good then sit on that spot and wait for it to come again. I picked this one up way outside, Derek caught it further in and mushy like those 2nd reef waves are, he dropped low so I crossed over. Thinking he’d want to do another go-behind, I cut down but Derek didn’t take the opening and by then the wave was hitting the inside and starting to run. Derek locked in right under my rail and the lip pitched out over both of us. Most of the time, Pipeline is a one man wave…this time it was friendly to the both of us. Paul Cohen/photogordinho captured the whole ride and that sure helps recalling the fun of riding it together. I’m gonna miss that boy…we all are.