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Into the Vortex

Pipeline. Photo: Jeff Divine
Jock Sutherland, Pipeline, 1969. Photo: Art Brewer
Jock Sutherland (right), 1969. Photo: Art Brewer
George Greenough and camera rig, 1969. Photo: Joe Bright

Longboarding was ridiculous in big, hollow surf. It could be done, but it wasn’t pretty. Butch Van Artsdalen rode Pipeline the way you’d imagine Buddy Rich would play drums with a pair of small tree branches.

The shortboard changed that. Tuberiding—like noseriding a few years earlier—became the “sport within the sport,” and Pipeline went from being a “Roman gladiator pit” (as Bruce Brown put it in Endless Summer) to something closer to the Holy See. Riding inside the tube would always remain ...

Jock Sutherland was the first great shortboard tuberider, and at Pipeline he set up each ride like a marksman taking aim. Blink and he was gone. Blink again and he was shooting out of the tube, in the exact same crouch, twenty yards down the beach.