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Cory Lopez

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Cory Lopez has proven himself one of surfing’s most progressive and stylish performers. He has laid smooth yet radical lines on waves all over the world, but he is perhaps best known for one wave that he didn’t even make. From cutting his teeth on the utterly waveless west coast of Florida to making an historic statement on one of the world’s most dangerous waves, Cory Lopez has run the gamut of surfing experience. He has served time among early aerial surfing’s most radical players to become a harbinger of what would soon be possible in the guts of Teahupo’s most heinous pit. His inhuman Teahupo barrel at the 1999 Gotcha Tahiti Pro splashed across the lens of Tom Servais and survived a year of intense scrutiny punctuated by profane amazement of fans and peers alike. It’s safe to say that subsequent rides by Laird Hamilton and Raimana van Bastolear and more recently Nathan Fletcher were made possible by Lopez’s mere survival.

Hailing from Florida’s Gulf Coast, Cory and his equally talented surfing brother Shea began surfing as soon as they could talk. With the support of a surf stoked dad, they soon began competing in the menehune divisions of the Eastern Surfing Association on both the east and west coasts of the Sunshine State. By 15, Cory began competing on the World Qualifying Series tour.

By 17, he was surfing and living the hot life with the San Clemente crew and the Lost… boys who were becoming known as much for their party lifestyle as their progressive surfing. Early films like “What’s Really Going On” showed that Lopez’s free surfing was on par with anything happening in the pro ranks. The fast and radical style of Lopez fit in perfectly with the new aerial approach to surfing coming out of California at the time. While fellow Florida export Kelly Slater as well as fellow SoCal punk Christian Fletcher had already begun innovating maneuvers above the wave years prior, a new movement that incorporated aerial surfing as the center of its approach was budding.

Lopez’s surfing was loose and creative off the top but tight and focused in the pocket: a perfect combination for global competition. He was fast on micro surf like back in FLA but was also fast becoming fearless in heavy conditions like those on the North Shore. With such a solid game and after an insane 29 World Qualifying Series appearances, he made the World Championship Tour in 1997. Insane free surf performances landed him choice video segments and lots of photos, but it his performance in Tahiti in 1999 that changed the game. Years later at the same spot and with a couple of well documented drops into oblivion and some solid overall surfing in epic South Pacific conditions, Cory Lopez took out fellow Florida boy CJ Hobgood in the final to earn his first WCT win of his career at the Billabong Tahiti Pro in 2001, finishing the year 3rd. He made the 2006 Pipeline Masters Final, placing 3rd.

Cory Lopez remained in the top 16 for the remainder of his career and held fast in the Surfer Poll as well. His surfing showed little rust or fatigue as he approached retirement. He moved on from full time touring in 2008 and began working with O’Neil. He started Nekton Surf Shop located in Indian Rocks Florida and settled down in Florida with a family (two children), but by 2009, Lopez was all over the surfing landscape with insane performances as far out as Skeleton Bay in Africa where a seemingly endless tube sent shock waves across the surfing world. He was one of the most visible surfers in the world years after retirement. In 2012, Lopez could be seen shredding lowers at the Nike Pro and mixing it up head to head with modern surfing’s most progressive athletes. He advanced into the 5th round before being stopped by a red hot John Florence.

Historically, Lopez has been an X Games Gold Medalist 3 times. He has won the U.S. Open of Surfing and the Globe SI Pro event. Lopez took two Surfer Mag 'Guts for Glory' awards.

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