"No two surfboards of that period looked alike. This was a function of unique design theories but also of the fact that during the transition from longboards to short, no one knew what surfboards were supposed to look like or what worked best. Everything was in a state of transition, and there was no established norm...
...I suppose in a generous mood one could call the colour coral, but one might also have described it as baby-shit brown. Back then I never gave much thought to a surfboard's lifespan, especially at the Pipeline. I figured if I dodn't grow to like this colour, the board probably wouldn't last long anyway...
...I got orders for the same shape as the Coral Cruiser, some of them from very good surfers whom I admired, and I gained quite a bit of confidence in my surfboard shaping. The following summer Jack Shipley, the head salesperson at Surf Line Hawai'i, and I joined together to open a shop of our own just down the street. We called the new shop Lightning Bolt Surf Company. The brand and insignia would go on to become recognized by surfers everywhere. Eventually it would grow into an internaltional licensing company, the first of its kind in the surf world.
The Coral Cruiser would stay intact and at one point, I painted a small blue lightning bolt on her deck. Eventually, she would become relegated to the back of the pile, replaced by shiny new bright coloured Lightning Bolt boards. She sadly sank into obscurity, left under a house somewhere and forgotten. When I did think of her and all she had done for me, it was too late. She was gone. But I'll never forget the magic, the excitement and the many glorious moments when she was the best that ever was."
Gerry Lopez, one of the surf worlds most iconic figures, paraphrased from his short story "The Coral Cruiser" found in his incredible biography "Surf Is Where You Find It".
Known as Mr Pipeline, Lopez was the undisputed King of the worlds most famous wave throughout the late 60's and early 70's, founder of one of the most famous surfboard brands ever, Indonesian pioneer, big wave surfer, elder statesman for the sport and he now resides in Oregon where he spends his days snowboarding and shaping surfboards still. He's got a lot of stories to tell, which he does with massive understatement and humility.
Text copyright Gerry Lopez and Patagonia Books.
Top image by myself, a Lightning Bolt that I was shown as part of a wide and amazing collection of vintage surfboards in California.
Bottom image of Gerry doing what he became famous for at Pipeline I think by Steve Wilkins, circa 1970.