Stab Magazine | Pipeline Remains The Deadliest Surf Spot On Earth
2381 Views

Pipeline Remains The Deadliest Surf Spot On Earth

“Just because you may not have heard about [certain deaths], doesn’t mean that they didn’t occur” – North Shore Lifeguard and Pipe specialist Dave Wassel

vtcs // Feb 23, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Did you know that a surfer died at Pipeline last month?

We didn’t.

It wasn’t until we specifically asked North Shore Lifeguard and Pipeline-specialist Dave Wassel about the rate of injuries and deaths this season that we learned about Marcus Bihu – a local bodyboarder and self-proclaimed “barrelholic” – who died after sustaining an injury at Pipeline this January. 

“Let us never forget that Pipeline is a dangerous wave at any size,” Wassel told Stab. “Adjacent to the right of way access between the Volcom Houses hangs a plaque – the list of fallen heroes is nearly as long as Pipe Master champions. Also, for every life lost there are tens of near-death accidents that never reach the masses. The ones that do are usually top tier athletes like Dusty Payne, Bede Durbidge, Owen Wright, and Kalani Chapman.  

“The media is great at focusing on the incredible moments that Pipeline has shined, most notably during the Da Hui BackDoor Shootout time frame, but they’re not so focused on all the

other 

days. 

“Don’t get me wrong, there have been incredible moments here and there for people who were on it, but there weren’t many all day Pipe sessions outside of the contest scene. And yes, having only four surfers in the water at once will dramatically reduce the odds of injury.”

ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 Screen Shot 2018 12 16 at 10.09.22 PM

 Pat G takes the blue pill and stands erect. Photo: WSL

At the start of this North Shore season, we released a video highlighting the perils of Pipeline and explaining why guys like Tom Carroll and Nate Fletcher wear helmets when surfing above the cheddar-cheese reef. That clip was part of our Vans Pick-Up series and you can rewatch it above. 

“People asked me, ‘You got your training wheels on?’” Nathan revealed when we asked about his brain bucket. “But you don’t hit a mega ramp without knee pads, or drive formula one in trunks, do you? 

“I like to be prepared. I’m like a business guy. This is my fucking briefcase.”

And it makes sense. Year after year Pipeline takes peoples’ skin, mobility, and occasionally their lives. It’s just pragmatic to protect oneself, especially the head. 

But at a wave with the prominence and might of Pipeline, people are always gonna get hurt – no matter what safety gear they’re rocking nor who’s there to save them (and the North Shore Lifeguard Association is the best at rescue and revival). 

“We have had close calls and one fatality this season at Pipeline, and the winter isn’t over yet,” Dave Wassel solemnly stated. “Just because you may not have heard about them doesn’t mean that they didn’t occur. Kinda like the number of shark attacks in Australia or other surf destinations that we don’t hear about.  I’m pretty sure that just because I haven’t heard that much about them, doesn’t mean they aren’t happening.”

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 3 

Nike has entered the chat.

Oct 5, 2022

Unlocked: Leonardo Fioravanti’s Stab Edit Of The Year Entry 

Watch 'The Cut' now, and baffle at the quality of both the waves and the…

Oct 4, 2022

The Pro Surfer Who Filmed A War Documentary In Ukraine

Damien Castera's got a story to tell.

Oct 4, 2022

Honest Review(s): O’Neill Hyperfreak Fire

Pushing the Limits of Wetsuit Tech for Men & Women

Oct 3, 2022

How Much Would You Pay For A Session Like This?

A cost-per-vision breakdown of Kian Martin and Tai Buddha's latest strike mission.

Oct 2, 2022

Ongoing Dialogue: Jack Freestone And Album’s Matt Parker On How They Get Sparks To Fly

"Nowadays, a standard thruster feels pretty alt to me." -Jack

Oct 2, 2022

Davo’s Death Strikes At Surfing’s Core

The underground icon battled demons til the end. His untimely demise is yet another cautionary…

Oct 1, 2022

Macaroni in the Pot

Jaleesa Vincent and 200 Lefts in the Mentawais

Oct 1, 2022

Introducing A Brand New Travel Series (With A Familiar Name)

Watch the first New York episode of Stab & Red Bull's No Contest Off Tour.

Sep 30, 2022

Leandro Dora: Pro Surfer, Businessman, Punk Rock Festival Organizer, Spiritual Mentor, And World Title Winning Surf Coach 

Meet one of the most beloved and effective individuals in the athlete's zone.

Sep 29, 2022

12:31

You’re Gonna Click On A New Oscar Langburne Video

Style that can't be denied.

Sep 29, 2022

Long Read: An Angel At My Table

From Stab Issue 15, October 2006: Chris Davidson has one more shot at the big…

Sep 28, 2022

5:07

Watch: Kalani David’s Last Dance

A final surf part from the Hawaiian surf/skate prodigy.

Sep 28, 2022

Taylor Steele Won’t Let Surf Filmmaking Die Without a Fight

Movies shown, filmmaking advice, punk rock at the 2022 Solento Surf Festival.

Sep 28, 2022

Wait, Are We Going To See Moana Jones In The Olympics At Teahupo’o?

Team USA (women) and Japan (men) should be able to choose anyone they want to…

Sep 27, 2022

Donald Brink and Matt Biolos Win Mick Fanning’s Electric Acid Surfboard Test

And we had a party in Oceanside to celebrate.

Sep 26, 2022

Kanoa Igarashi and Kirra Pinkerton Answer Call Of Duty, Win Medals Of Honor In 2022 ISA World Games

Teams Japan, USA, and France move into Victor’s Village.

Sep 26, 2022

The Best Euro Surf Trips That Mightn’t Be On Your Radar

Want to know which less-trodden nation offers the most potential?

Sep 26, 2022
Advertisement