Gerry Lopez model Lightning Bolt 7’11 single fin gun shaped by Mickey Muñoz in the mid 1970’s. Restored to original condition by a surfboard restoration expert with over 40 years of experience. Use as a functional surfboard or decorative surfboard art piece!
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History of Gerry Lopez & Lightning Bolt surfboards
Gerry Lopez has been one of the biggest inspirations for surfers today, and there are many reasons why. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Lopez started surfing the semi-secret reefs around Aina Haina. It was evident early on that Lopez had a natural talent for surfing. He took inspiration from the infamous Paul Strauch, a fellow Hawaiian born surfer with a surfing style composed of effortlessness and grace. It didn’t take long for the general public to recognize Gerry’s natural talent, solidified by winning the Hawaii State Championship at the young age of fourteen.
Lopez began frequenting the famous surf break of Ala Moana Bowls which is where he put an edge on his style and matchless tube riding skills. His technique became tailored and perfected, and his poise on the board became unique and identifiable as only his. Lopez, along with some friends, migrated out to Oahu’s North Shore looking up to prominent surfers like Jock Sutherland and Butch Van Artsdalen who surfed the heavy waves at Banzai Pipeline. This was during the time when surfboard design had started to assimilate downrailer edges and curves allowing riders to maneuver into the fast moving waves of Pipeline. Lopez realized that performance levels would expand from the riding of waves at “Pipe” and thus committed to mastering the break. Before long, he was recognized as the greatest tube rider in the world and from then on was referred to as “Mr. Pipeline”. Lopez went on to claim the title of Pipeline Masters Champion in 1972 and 1973. He was also titled as the ‘Waterman of the Year’ in later years. His passion for surfing and love for water sports enabled him to earn respect from everyone in the surfing world.
Lopez also developed an interest in surfboard shaping and made many significant contributions to commercial surfboard manufacturing. Along with Jack Shipley, Lopez co-founded the iconic ‘Lightning Bolt Surfboards’ label, which was an elite brand that produced high performance, high quality shortboards. He also created the elegant Lightning Bolt jag, which reflected his unique and simplistic style and became exceptionally popular among surfers in the 1970‘s. Interestingly, the Lightning bolt brand was the first label to actually sponsor riders with surfboards free of cost, mostly because quite often talented riders couldn’t afford good surfboards. A jack of all trades, Lopez has also acted in films such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “North Shore”, “Farewell to the King”, and “Big Wednesday”. He’s also appeared in many surfing documentaries, ads, and catalogs. Lopez also published a book titled “Surf is Where You Find It”. Undoubtedly, Gerry “Mr. Pipeline” Lopez and his graceful style of riding waves will be be admired for many generations to come.
Lightning Bolt Surfboards
Established in Hawaii in the summer of 1971, Lightning Bolt was created by Gerry Lopez and Jack Shipley. Their surfboards immediately turned into the surfing name of the 1970s. The Lightning Bolt was one of the initial big-hitter surf companies. Surfers in the early 1970s knew they were picking up a quality product and would come to Hawaii from all around the world to get their hands on Lightning Bolt boards and surf-wear. Though Lightning Bolt fell off the radar after its prime days, it has lived on and flourished in Europe for the past 20 years and is making a comeback in the U.S. market. The current president of the company is Jon Paskowitz.
With Gerry Lopez riding the Bolt boards (he was at the cusp of becoming the universally acknowledged Pipeline master) and Jack Shipley’s existing business prowess, their influence combined got the best surfers in the water on Lightning Bolt surfboards. The whole surfing world concentrated on the North Shore of Oahu, and it was a revolutionary moment for the surf industry. Surfers from all over the world poured into the Hawaiian Islands, and the “it” board was the Lightning Bolt. An old school classic film from 1970 “Free Ride” featuring Gerry Lopez, Rory Russell, Rabbit Bartholomew and Mark Richards, riding Lightning Bolt surfboards introduced us to the surfing legends of our time. With the support of surf-wear executive Duke Boyd, the company turned into an industry force. There are some interesting rumors regarding the genesis of the lightning bolt symbol. Some suggest the bolt was a graphic metaphor for a heavy strain of marijuana circulating the Hawaiian Islands in the late 60s. Company co-founder Gerry Lopez denies that all: “It was about the energy.”- the spirit of Hawaiian surf, but also the energy of human physicality and finesse to make surfboards to ride that energy deeper, faster and more radically. Beautiful, skillfully crafted Hawaiian guns were at the base of Lightning Bolt. This was quite a new era in surfing that was developing fast and powerfully. In freestyle surfing and in tournaments – like the Pipeline Masters contest – surfers and surfboards were evolving incredibly fast.
The vision of the company stays the same from the very beginning. It is to provide high-quality products- the best one a man can make, something the owners would use themselves. The current president claims that he wishes the Aloha spirit of the older Bolt “to be seen and felt” in the new models. Lighting Bolt was one of the biggest companies in the industry in the 80s. It’s hard to compare it to any companies nowadays- “it was an umbrella that encompassed the entire surfing world”. Companies like this bring surfers to their roots, making them feel part of something vaster. Thanks to Lightning Bolt boards, they can still feel like one of the biggest surfers in history.
About 40 years after its establishment, the company is making a comeback reintroducing itself in the United States and internationally. Lightning Bolt at its essence represents an ideology that surfing, in its purest form, is a way of life rather than just another sport. The brand celebrates the passion of the people and how surfing is one of the simplest ways individuals can connect to nature. The company prides itself on producing a premium product for the conscious surfer that maintains quality, style, and utility as well as caring about local manufacturing. The brand emphasizes a clear global presence and rank in culture and is graced for continued prosperity.