Topics: Duke Kahanamoku, Jaws Surf Break, Evolution of the Surf Board Fin and Gerry “Mr. Pipeline” Lopez
Illustrations by Greg Chinn at The Local Brand Co.
Surfing is near and dear to our illustrator, Greg Chinn. Here’s what he has to say.
Growing up on Oahu, it seemed like surfing was automatically in your DNA. Going to the south shore with my friends with our long boards or riding our thrusters at the local shore break was how my teen years were spent. Since I'm part Hawaiian, I always idolized Duke Kahanamoku and what he had accomplished as a native islander — winning multiple gold medals in the Olympics and being an amabassador to the sport of surfing. With that said, Gerry Lopez was my favorite surfer. He had a laid-back style of surfing and was seemingly fearless. He was just plain cool. Creating these surfing images re-invigorated my love of the ocean and further deepens by commitment to the earth. Check out these links for more info: https://oceana.org, https://www.greenpeace.org/international/, https://www.worldwildlife.org/initiatives/oceans, https://coral.org
The one and only Big Kahuna, Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku was the grandaddy of modern surfing. Duke competed for the U.S. in multiple Olympics, winning medals as a swimmer and water polo competitor. He was a movie actor, family man and business man, but he’s best known as the first ambassador of surfing. Surfing had nearly been wiped out by 19th Century missionaries, but Duke was instrumental in popularizing the sport. The Duke Kahanamoku Foundation continues his legacy, providing scholarships and support for young Hawaiian athletes. Check out his 8 Ways to Be a Surfer for insight into his character.
Jaws Surf Break, Peʻahi
Home to maybe the biggest, fastest, scariest wave in the Pacific, Peʻahi (aka Jaws), produces waves up to 80 feet. The great Laird Hamilton, along with the Strapped Crew, made history as the first surfer to be towed in by jet ski, but surfers have been taking Jaws on for as long as people have taken to the water. Gerry Lopez called it “Domes” before it was Jaws, and its traditional name is Ke Kai 'o Waitakulu or “The Teary Eye.” Check out footage from the 2019 Jaws Big Wave Championship.
Evolution of the Fin
For much of the history of the surfboard, the fin just wasn’t a thing. Traditional surfers relied on dragging their feet or shaping their boards for control. In 1935, surfer Tom Blake stuck an aluminum speedboat keel to the bottom of his board and fins were born. The control was incredible, and soon surfers everywhere were building on the idea. Single fins evolved into streamlined, shark-like, futuristic things of wood, plastic and fiberglass. The twin fin came along in the ’70s, and in 1981 Simon Anderson introduced the three-finned Thruster. Quads, Twinzers and Bonzers followed. For more about the sleek shapes and amazing designs, check out this visual timeline..
Gerry Lopez, Mr. Pipeline
Laid-back, posed cool as a cucumbershooting through the infamous Pipeline, Gerry Lopez won the Pipeline Masters Competition two years in a row and went on to pioneer surfing in Indonesia and to found Lightning Bolt Surfboards. Like Duke Kahanamoku, he also dabbled in movies, appearing in films ranging from North Shore to Conan the Barbarian. Since the early ’70s, he’s been acknowledged as the king of tuberiders. Today he lives in Oregon and snowboards as much as he surfs, but no matter whether he’s shaping boards or doing yoga, he’ll be iconic in that chill pose, earning the name Mr. Pipeline.