Jamie O’Brien and the Gerry Lopez Pipe Gun
Remember Red Bull Decades? The initiative saw a team of Red Bull gents (Jamie O’Brien, Ian Walsh, Kolohe Andino, Julian Wilson) in Tahiti, riding iconic boards from surfing’s history. One of those boards was the Gerry Lopez Lighting Bolt Pipe Gun. And Jamie was bummed that he didn’t get to ride it in the kinda […]
Remember Red Bull Decades? The initiative saw a team of Red Bull gents (Jamie O’Brien, Ian Walsh, Kolohe Andino, Julian Wilson) in Tahiti, riding iconic boards from surfing’s history.
One of those boards was the Gerry Lopez Lighting Bolt Pipe Gun. And Jamie was bummed that he didn’t get to ride it in the kinda waves it was made for. So, when he got back to Hawaii, he decided to knife it through some North Shore juice before retiring it to his wall for good. One particularly amazing moment occurred at Off The Wall – so good that we featured it on the cover of issue 72. The latest episode of Who Is JOB 4.0, and a bonus section from Decades, both feature Jamie in Hawaii on the Gerry gun.
And here’s our On The Cover feature from issue 72: Jamie O’Brien, Cadillac Garage, Off the Wall. Photo by Tom Carey
Jamie O’Brien has the unique status of being either the best, or the second best, surfer at Pipeline and yet unable to scratch into the 44 surfers competing there.
It is ironic, therefore, to be calling Jamie, whose house is roughly a dozen footsteps from where the Pipe Masters contest is currently electrifying the Shore.
“Why aren’t you in the event?” you ask.
“Oh brah, don’t even start,” says Jamie, in a flat tone that suggests further questions would be unwelcome.
But it isn’t the peculiarity of seedings systems that you seek on this day but his response to page one. It is touching Jamie should be so very popular, still, for his virtue of non-conformity isn’t usually a roadmap to success. But, whatever. Here is Jamie making honey in his hive.
“It’s real difficult to ride that board,” says Jamie of the seven-foot-and-two-inches Gerry Lopez single-fin, created as part of the Red Bull Decades project that featured in this magazine three issues ago. “Just get down low…set your line early…and go.”
Jamie likens its dimensions to a Cadillac and was delighted by how he could get into the waves, “really smooth, really early.”
The photographer, Tom Carey, says he ain’t at the top of the pecking order when it comes to shooting at the popular stretch and to steal an obvious cover shot from the pack is “like a fucking dream come true.”
Tom says the main shooters at the 300-metre Pipeline/Backdoor/Off the Wall stretch are Zak Noyle, Dan Russo and Brent Bielmann, all Hawaiians, all fish-like in the water. “There’s not a lot of room to move out there,” says Tom, adding that if the gun shooters know that you’re out there to shoot a specific surfer they’ll hold their triggers or move out of frame.
This barrel came as Jamie paddled down from Backdoor after Tom’s request that they try and grab a shot. The waves were four-to-six-feet in the Hawaiian measure, fun, in Jamie’s lexicon, but somewhat troubling to the average surfer. “This was one of those ones where I got lucky,” says Tom. “I threw my wrist out there. It was so tight, I was right in the corner of the frame. I was just hoping there weren’t any water drops on the lens.” The lens, if you’re wondering, was locked at 13mm which is wide as fuck.
An hour after the photo was taken Tom, who is a staff photographer at Stab, emailed it and asked what I intended to do with it.
“Maybe we could run it online,” I told him. “Framing is poor, composition ain’t what it should be. Exposures are out. I’ll toss you 40 shekels purely ’cause I like the Lopez board and I think Jamie is rad.”
Have you ever heard a tear fall? A heart break? A foggy silence ensued. When the gag was stretched to its limit, I released Tom from my grip.
“Oh fuck. You’re fucking with me!” said Tom, no longer useless with grief.
I asked Tom how it feels to have his art at the whim of magazine editors, paltry men whose lives are squandered in front of laptop screens. “
“That’s the frustrating part. It’s really hard,” says Tom. “Someone behind a desk will tell you that something’s not right, that it doesn’t fit the page, that the frame’s wrong. It’s gut wrenching. It’s the worst thing that can happen, good photos never finding a home.”
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