“The Banzai Pipeline is a beautiful and horrific confluence of oceanographic features, the sum of which is one of the most dangerous waves on the planet. Considered unsurfable until the 1960s, the wave has killed dozens of surfers and photographers and injured countless more. The size of the average wave is scary enough—it’s about the height of a basketball hoop and wide enough to park a small car into, if you’re wondering—but even more intimidating is its steep drop, which makes the initial takeoff a split-second, do-or-die decision. If you make it, you have to snake around the rolling crowds of bodies duck-diving around you and the all-too-common surfboard shrapnel—boards ditched by their owners in a moment of fight-or-flight instinct—that can shoot out at you like flying fiberglass guillotines as they crash down the lip of the wave. If you don’t make the drop, you get slammed into the three feet of water between you and lava rock reef. All this for the chance at a few moments of getting barreled.
Pipe has been and still is considered the ultimate proving ground for surfers, professional and amateur alike. For decades, local and international gnar-dogs have flocked to its peak winter swells to test their mettle against one of the most respected and feared waves on Earth.
John John Florence started surfing it when he was eight years old…”