Cory Lopez back to team
Cory Lopez is a man of extremes.
Emerging from the shadows of the notoriously wave barren Gulf Coast of Florida, Cory likes to charge massive, barreling waves. Defined as much by the waves he doesn’t make as much as the ones he does, Cory’s exploits keep everyone guessing just what he will drop into next.
In 1999,just two seasons deep into his WCT career, Cory was in Tahiti for the Gotcha Tahiti Pro. Though he qualified for the tour on his first attempt, he describes his first two seasons as “mediocre.” A seasoned surfer, favoring heavy waves like Pipeline, Cory was known on tour as a flashy trickster with his big airs and freakish layback tailslides and snaps. In 1999, however, he paddled in to a monstrous Teahupoo death barrel, and was quickly engulfed by an abyss of blue.
“I’d just arrived and had no idea how big the waves were” he said. When that set came in I was way behind in the heat. I saw that wave and it didn’t even look that big. I couldn’t see that there was absolutely no back. I felt it getting bigger just as I was dropping in. Then, once I pulled in, I could tell the tube was giant.”
By the time he surfaced, Cory ignited a new levels in big wave surfing, with everyone looking to push it just one notch higher. After the contest, he went back to the WCT.
Two years later, in 2001, Cory returned to Teahupoo and dominated the Billabong Pro in Tahiti. His only WCT win to date, Cory’s performance at that contest not only validated that he could indeed surf the spot well, but also showed that his 1999 season wasn’t a fluke. That Teahupoo victory stands as one of his favorite moments in his career. “I was so stoked to be there with my brother, and it was like a big sigh of relief that I had finally won a contest.”
THE LONG ROAD
The early rivalry between the Lopez brothers is as dramatic and fabled as their surfing. Whatever Shea did, Cory did the opposite. They both started surfing as young as they could walk, but Cory resisted competitive surfing at first, while Shea moved east to embrace it. “I was always a punk when I was young,” said Cory. “I just wanted to be radical. Maybe the younger brother has to be more radical, to stand out. I don’t know if it was on purpose or what, but that’s just the way that it was.”
TO THE EXTREME
Cory’s approach to surfing is still hard-core, and incredibly aggressive. Any one who’s ever surfed with him would say that nobody surfs as much as he does. Because he grew up as a surfer in a land without waves, Cory wrings every last bit of energy out of each wave he comes across.
In 2008, after 11 years of straight competition, Cory took the year off to just have fun and surf. Looking back, he admits sometimes he wasn’t the best competitor and made decisions in the heat of the moment that didn’t always work out. “When you are in the water,” he explains, “you have two seconds to make the decision whether you are going catch that wave or not. You make that decision and its not always a good one. There’s where my problem is. Sometimes the best way to win is to be a complete ***hole in the water.”
The year 2008 also marked another of Cory’s extremes. As part of an expedition team going to an undiscovered left off the coast of Africa, Cory waited out the better part of three weeks for a wave, discovered via Google Earth, to break. That particular wave only breaks about twice a year, and Cory finally caught it firing. Not only did the discovery add another mind-boggling tube to Cory’s list (by some reports up to a mile long), but it gave Cory back something he hadn’t experienced in a long time. “I felt like a kid again out there.”
When not surfing, Cory calls himself a “sports freak and a total jock when it comes to watching my home teams: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rays, and the Orlando Magic.” Currently based in California, Cory and his fiancé Jen are expecting a baby girl in early 2009, just as Cory will launch his bid to requalify for the WCT. “If I don’t qualify this year, I’ll probably be done with contest surfing, but I’ll free surf as long as they want me to.”
With an impressive showing already in Tasmania, the surf world will wait to see what new heights Cory Lopez will achieve.
Cory also has a travel blog here.