Surfing legend Gerry Lopez shared some of his wisdom with UCSB last night, chatting with the audience about the state of the ocean, his surfing roots and even Marilyn Monroe’s impact on the sport.
Lopez delivered the lecture at 8:00 p.m. to mark the release of his new book Surf is Where You Find It. He spoke to a full house in Campbell Hall.
Yvon Chouinard, owner and founder of the Patagonia clothing line and sports gear, attended last night’s lecture and called Lopez the leader of his sport.
“He certainly is the Zen master of surfing,” Chouinard said. “I don’t know another surfer who represents what surfing is all about more than Gerry.”
During his hour-long sermon of surfing lore, Lopez talked about what surfing and the ocean have given to him, as well as how he allowed surfing to shape his life. Lopez was warmly accepted by the crowd of surfing colleagues and fans, eager to hear about his life and his reasons for writing the book.
“[My] motivation was to get the stories down on paper before I forgot them,” Lopez said.
The crowd roared with applause when Lopez stepped on stage and greeted the audience.
“I thought this was going to be a small, intimate gathering,” Lopez said. “I just hope I got something to say to make it worthwhile for you.”
After Lopez finished his speech, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and a line for autographs reached the front door of Campbell Hall.
Lopez discussed the early days of the rise of the surf industry, when he recalled surfing the Pipeline – a surf break in Hawaii – in an “expression session” in 1974 for $200.
Lopez also spoke about his transition to snowboarding recently and recounted stories from his childhood. One story focused on him and his friends getting arrested for trespassing in the 1960s, but narrowly escaping charges thanks to the testimony of “a barefoot hippie with a piece of chalk.”
Lopez also gave a slideshow, which included an old picture of a friend surfing the Queen of the Coast: Rincon.
“[He had] no wetsuit, too,” Lopez said. “That’s when men were men.”
Lopez’s career spanned from his contest-surfing and surfboard-shaping ventures in the 1970s, to his cameo in the film “Big Wednesday” and his role as the archer next to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Hollywood classic “Conan The Barbarian.”
“I still like to watch ‘Big Wednesday’,” Lopez said.
The lecture was followed by a question and answer session, where Lopez took questions in stride from the audience and gave an explanation as to why he thinks Tom Zahn is the best surfer of all time.
“He slept with Marilyn Monroe,” Lopez said. “Who’s ever going to top that?”
Second-year global studies major Hannah Perry said she was excited to see Lopez speak last night and that the surfer has greatly influenced her own life.
“I love Gerry,” Perry said. “It’s because of him that I sit in the barrel all day and then stay up chanting and doing yoga all night.”
Professional surfer and known Rincon ripper Dan Malloy was also in attendance last night and said that Lopez’s speech was powerful.
“I got the chills six times!” Malloy said.