Banzai Pipeline, or simply "Pipeline" or "Pipe,"
is a surf reef break located off Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea
on O`ahu's North Shore. A reef break is an area in the ocean
where waves crash once they reach the shallows of a reef.
Pipeline is notorious and famous for its huge waves breaking
in shallow water just above its sharp and cavernous reef,
forming large, hollow and thick curls of water that surfers
can surf inside. There are three reefs at Pipeline in progressively
deeper water further out to sea that activate at various
power levels applied by ocean swells.
The location's compound name combines the name of the surf
break (Pipeline) with the name of the beach fronting it
(Banzai Beach). It got its name in December 1961 when surfing
movie producer Bruce Brown was driving the North Shore with
California surfers Phil Edwards and Mike Diffenderfer. Brown
stopped at the then-unnamed site to film Edwards catching
several waves. At the time, there was a construction project
on an underground pipeline on adjacent Kamehameha Highway,
and Diffenderfer made the suggestion to name the break Pipeline.
The name was first used in Brown's movie Surfing Hollow
Pipeline is best on a strong swell that is pushed from the
west, to clear out the sand in the reef that normally closes
it out (meaning the hollow tube collapses all at once) on
strong north swells. It is a flat tabletop reef, with several
caverns on the inside, creating a giant air bubble that
pops on the front of the wave when the wave lurches upwards
just before breaking. There are also several jagged, underwater
lava spires that can cut up fallen surfers fairly badly.
There are four waves associated with Pipe. The left (which
means the wave breaks from left to right from the perspective
of a watcher on shore) known as Pipeline (a.k.a., First
Reef), is the most commonly surfed and photographed. When
the reef is hit by a north swell, the peak (the highest
tipping-point of the wave where it begins to curl) becomes
an A-frame shaped wave, with Pipe closing out a bit and
peeling off left, and the just-as-famous Backdoor Pipeline
peeling away to the right at the same time. As the size
at Pipe increases, over 12 feet usually, Second Reef on
the outside (further out into the deeper ocean waters) starts
breaking, with longer walls (the steep, unbroken part of
the wave that the surfer slides across), and more size.
At an extreme size an area called Third Reef even further
outside starts to break with giant waves.
The extreme challenge posed by Pipeline at size, to even
the best athletes, cannot be overstated. Numerous surfers
and photographers have been killed at Pipe, including Jon
Mozo and Tahitian Malik Joyeux, who was famous for his heavy
charging (gutsy surfing) at Teahupo'o. Pipeline is often
called the world's deadliest wave, since more people have
died there, or have been seriously injured, than at any
other surf spot.
The takeoff zone at Pipeline is small but the number of
surfers who flock there when it's breaking is large. Established
local surfers consequently work together to limit outsiders'
access to the waves. The localism and occasional violence
of this self-described "Wolf Pack" (successors
in this role to Da Hui) are often criticized, but their
intimidating presence provides an indispensable degree of
crowd control and has probably prevented even more carnage
Among the many famous surfers to earn a reputation surfing
the Pipeline are Butch Van Artsdalen, Gerry Lopez, Rory
Russell, Shaun Tomson, Kane Quinn, Mark Richards, Michael
Ho, Simon Anderson, Dane Kealoha, Tom Carroll, Gary Elkerton,
Sunny Garcia, Kelly Slater, Jamie O'Brien, Rob Machado,
Kala Alexander, Sunny Boy Gomes, Flynn Novak, John John
Florence and bodyboarder Mike Stewart. Although not famous
for surfing Pipeline, Jack Johnson's fame is partly because
of surfing Pipeline. After a wipeout that put over£200
stitches in his forehead and knocked a few of his teeth
out, his career path veered from becoming a professional
surfer to becoming a musician.
The top surfing competitions at this spot are the Pipe Masters
(Board Surfing), the IBA Pipeline Pro (Bodyboarding), the
and the Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic.
As well as Shaun Tomson 1977 world champion from South Africa,
and Mark Richards four time 1979-1982 world champion from
Australia, surfers Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew 1978 world
champion from Australia and Peter Townen, 1976 world champion
from Australia earned reputations surfing Off-The-Wall and
Backdoor at a time when competitive surfing was coming of
age. Off-The-Wall, and Backdoor are "the rights on
the other side of Pipeline" - Randy Rarick, Director
of Hawaiian Triple Crown of Surfing quoted from the movie
"Bustin' Down The Door."