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How Gerry Lopez jumped the queue at Slater's wave pool

One of the most fun tasks of getting the book together was our interview with Gerry Lopez, who was just home in Bend, Oregon after his landmark visit to Kelly Slater’s wave pool. Kelly had already jokingly offered first surf on the left-hand variant of his impeccable right to Barton Lynch and I at Bells. If anyone was going to gazump me it might as well be the undeniable master, Gerry Lopez. I had to make do with his feedback.

‘Kelly’s wave is good as a wave can be. He called up out of the blue, so I went down and had a go and it was good. After I caught a left I thought I better catch a right back. I can’t tell you which one is better.’

Gerry and I have crossed paths frequently since 1972, when I ran into him in the South Australian desert on a surf raid to what was then one of the most hard-core outposts of the known surfing world, Cactus. He was backing me all the way when I won my World Masters title at Cloudbreak in 1997.

‘Here’s Terry and he’s getting the good waves, building up the points, doing it kinda quietly and without people really noticing. Come the end of the event and he’s the winner, it put a bigger smile on my face. No-one deserved it more, it showed the rest of those guys that you don’t have to be an asshole competitor to be competitive. I was so happy when that result came, I just went ‘Sheeehhaagh!’ the best man won.’

The best man got first shot at Kelly’s wave pool too. No goofy-footer in the world deserves more respect than Gerry. He’s the man!

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