The Inertia

We’ve all seen Kelly Slater charging Pipeline, but it’s a rarer sight to see him on a novelty wave. That’s exactly what happened in the latest video from surf vlogger Jamie O’Brien, who documented a backwash-riding session at Pipeline that managed to lure out the GOAT.

“This is the backwash day of dreams, best I’ve seen it in 10 years,” said O’Brien at the top of the video, as he looked out his back window onto Pipeline. Of course, he’d be the one to know, as he’s one of the few surfers who’s as comfortable in the tube as he is on a soft-top.

Though it was a novelty wave, the session was no joke. They would be riding knee-high backwash, in the wrong direction, straight into the actual Pipeline lineup. O’Brien actually strapped into an impact vest, lest he somehow managed to foam-board his way right into the impact zone.

“I think it’s just better safe than sorry, you know?” he explained to skimboarder Blair Conklin over the phone. “The backwash is so incredible and straight offshore and Pipe’s straight onshore, so if we end up too far out there, it’s just in case.”

Out on the beach, Koa Smith showed up, shortly followed by Slater himself. Seeing the 11-time champion on a soft-top was as much a novelty as the wave itself, but if it was going to happen on any day, it would be this one. The session ended on a four-man party wave with Jamie, Koa, Blair and Kelly riding out into the sunset, with 15-foot bombs coming straight at them.


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