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Five Things You Should Know About Pipeline



Pipeline. It’s the most notorious stretch of sea in the world — and for damn good reason. The wave has produced some of the most memorable moments in the history of our beloved surfing. It has also taken a dozen lives, fractured hundreds of bones, broken thousands of boards and completely destroyed even more egos. Simply put, it’s a beast. But it’s a beautiful beast, and one that we adore.


With the 2016 Pipe Masters about to start, we figured it’d be a good time to share a few random facts about the wave. Go ahead — dive in.

1. It’s from a volcano.

The reef at Pipe? You know, the one that sits just a few feet below the surface and is notoriously (though incorrectly) said to consist of caves? Yeah, it’s made of lava. In fact, the entire Hawaiian archipelago is. After years and years of volcanic eruptions, the islands (and their surrounding reefs) were born. So the chunk that shapes the wave was once molten lava under the earth’s surface. Interesting.

2.It once hurt thirty people in a day.

Thirty people. One day. That was during a big swell in December of 1998. She may be pretty, but she doesn’t always play nice.

3. A shaper named it.

Ever notice how a good wave there looks perfectly round…kinda like a pipeline? So did Mike Diffenderfer. The California-born board builder suggested the wave be called Pipeline on a trip to Hawaii with Bruce Brown…and then he went surfing.

4. West is best.

Pipeline is many things — simple is not one of them. It takes a very special type of swell to make the wave break just right. The west-northwest direction is ideal. Too much north in it and most of the energy will focus on the other nearby reefs. Some of those reefs are great, but none of them are Pipeline.

5.There have been many kings.

From Butch Van Arsdalen to Gerry Lopez to Jamie O’Brien to John John Florence to, of course, Kelly Slater. Without fail, every era produces a new king of Pipeline. The reason behind this is simple — it’s because every generation continues to fall in love with Pipeline. And, hey, somebody’s gotta rise to the top.


Posted in Surf
Tagged in surf