How Should We Remember Tamayo Perry? - Stab Mag

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Tamayo, not at Pipeline (where he made his legacy), but at Teahupo'o. He was, by all accounts, a world-class barrel rider.

How Should We Remember Tamayo Perry?

Friends and family flood social media with loving messages about one of the North Shore’s great pillars.

elsewhere // Jun 24, 2024
Words by Christian Bowcutt
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Read our full story about Tamayo Perry’s life and passing here. Our thoughts are with Tamayo’s family and friends at this time.

It’s sad that we normally aren’t the ones that get to hear what everyone loved and respected about us.

That outpouring of love and nostalgia typically comes right after we’re gone, and while that we may not get to scroll through our Instagram and see it, it’s beautiful to see obituaries being written by someone’s closest friends and family these days, and not just from some journalist assigned to the obituary section.

So, on that note, here are some of our favorite tributes to Tamayo written thus far:

From Moana Jones Wong
“If you know Tamayo, you know his two favorite spots were Goats and Pipe. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in the line up at both spots with him and his wife, Emilia Perry. I will cherish all of our memories forever. I would always joke around and tell them I was the daughter they never had. Tamayo you were one of a kind and I love you so much. You and Emilia were always some of my biggest supporters at Pipe, and Goats of course. We are gonna miss you forever. Today when I heard someone passed at Goats for some reason I knew it was you (probably because I know your routine so well and I know there’s only a few of us who always surf this spot) but when I got confirmation it was you my heart sank. When I went down there just now it was dark and gloomy and victory-at-sea but when I placed four flowers in the lava pound and took out my phone to record the clouds parted just enough to light up the surf spot and the flowers got taken in the ocean in that moment and I knew you were there. I won’t be out there again anytime soon but when I do go back out I’ll know you are there and always will be. His blood runs through these waters, he is home, he is part of this place forever.”

From Tom Carroll
“Oh man. Weighty news. Bless you Tamayo, may you rest in Love brother. Very special memories with you at Pipe sitting way over inside, taking each other deeper. Always a beautiful energy emanating from your soul, water or land…thank you for being you! Sadness for those loved ones left behind in the wake of grief…sending big love to you all.”

From Shayden Pacarro
“Sad to lose a good friend and hero but what a legend from start to finish! Besides pipeline tamayo is the GOAT island mascot! He deserves a statue over there!”

From Cliff Kapono
“How close were you to Tamayo? Well, the swell was really north. Maybe a bit too north for sunset. Thinking all the heavy locals would be elsewhere, I opted to paddled out. The current was strong and sweeping down the point. Before I knew it, I was caught taking set after set on the head. Something to be expected at sunset beach. What I didn’t expect was to see, was a tiny dot of a human fly down the point from an “undisclosed” location. A goofy footer with a helmet on. He wasn’t pumping, rather performing a calculated highline, with precision he dug his heels into the upper region of the wave’s crest. I did some of my own math and calculated we would eventually cross if I kept my own line. I had a choice. Change direction and paddle into the white water only to get smoked to shore after 15 min of straight paddling, or run like a rat to the shoulder. Without a hesitation, I took the cheese and thought I was in the clear. I made it out the back and figured the surfer was unhindered. Winded, I made it back to the lineup and I hear roaring coming from the inside. “Who tha fuck was that in my line?!” I already knew. “Shit.” I thought to myself. That’s fucking Tamayo Perry. Gaddmanit u rat bastard Cliff. U know better. As he sprinted towards me, I did what any 19 year old Hilo boy would’ve done. I sat up on my board and braced for impact. As he got within feet of me, he looked in my eyes and asked if it was me. I told him it was in fact me and that it was my fault. Calming down, he paddle right up and took his helmet off. He showed me his scars on his head from nearly dying just the year before and preceded to yell at the top of his lungs, “this shit is for fucking real out here.” He put his helmet back on and paddled away. Over the years I would share waves with him at other reefs, one being a slab that was lost to the lava here on big island. I never asked him if he remembered me being that kid but I always had a feeling he knew. Thats how close I was to Tamayo, close to getting an ass beating. Rest in power to a great teacher for so many including myself. We truly lost a fucking real one.”

From Emilia (his wife) on his surf school Instagram, @OahuSurfingExperience —
“We all want to be the hero of our own story, one of the redeeming characteristics of humanity is our desire to follow our convictions always and without fear. Few of us are able to truly be that hero, Tamayo Perry was is and will be forever. He was everyone’s big brother, stern and uncompromising with an infectious and kolohe smile. He was your rescuer in time of need, your safety when all things fell apart. He was a knight forged in the fires of the North Shore in the 90’s, his faith in Christ the rock upon which he stood. Few are those who truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus, Tamayo never took his eyes off the path. Tragic though his passing may be, he left this world doing what he loved where he loved to do it. We find strength in knowing he is in heaven with our Lord Jesus Christ, trading barrels at Pipeline with his friends that have gone before him.”

49-year-old Tamayo was a gifted Pipe specialist, Hollywood stuntman, father, and friend. He suffered a fatal shark attack near Laie, Hawaii earlier today. We hope to keep his legacy in our minds right now and learn even more about him from his loved ones in the days to come. Thanks for your devotion to surfing, Tamayo.

From John John Florence —
“Some of my best memories surfing Pipe when I was young were getting to watch Tamayo stand tall in 10-12 ft Pipe barrels, coming out smiling every time. I loved Tamayo and learned from him because he always told you how it was. Every day, whether he was in the water or being a lifeguard, he always had a big smile for our family. We will miss you Tamayo. Sending our love to his wife Emilia and family.”

From Dave Wassel —
“I will praise my partners any chance I get. With countless successful rescues, Tamayo Perry deserves all the praise in the world. Quick with a smile and even quicker to jump into the line of duty, he was a corner stone to the Pipeline Tower. We appreciate you setting the bar so high, Tamayo. We will strive keep up with the pace you set.”

Here is a link to a GoFundMe for Tamayo’s family.

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