Pipe Claims Another

Gary Kewley
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Friday - December 09, 2005
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here on earth — 25 phenomenal years!
here on earth — 25
phenomenal years!

I never once met him ... yet, when I learned of his tragic death, tears came. Like tens of thousands of surfers worldwide, I’ve spent countless times in awe of his photographs in the waves of Teahupoo. I’ve seen the videos, too - wow! They are literally unreal and timeless. They are etched in my mind. His pictures have graced thousands of walls and caused us to dream of the impossible. Young or old, he gave us surfers a sense of invincibility. Malik Joyeux had just 25 years here on earth - 25 phenomenal years!

Malik was taken away by the infamous Banzai Pipeline on Friday, Dec. 2, at about 10 a.m. It was a day with an 8-foot average (from the Pipe Posse’s point of view) or 15 feet in the face. The waves were hammering “top to bottom” in 4-8 feet of water, which is typical. This wave’s “lip” smacks down on the water’s surface like a guillotine, but does not stop until it plows with hundreds of pounds of pressure into solid reef.

Remember, there was a time not too long ago - less than 50 years - that Pipe was considered unsurfable! Imagine this older generation being time-transported to the present day to see what surfers are doing out there ... they’d shrivel in shock and dis-belief. No matter what great discoveries surfers have made recently, in my humble opinion Pipeline is still unsurpassed in its danger. About a dozen have died there over the years, many hundreds seriously injured and countless close calls, many of which we surfers never even know about.

Tragedy rocked the surfing world when Tahitian surfer Malik Joyeux, 25, pictured at left and above (surfing his home break Teahupoo), was killed in a freak wipeout while surfing at Banzai Pipeline
Tragedy rocked the surfing world when Tahitian
surfer Malik Joyeux, 25, pictured at left and above
(surfing his home break Teahupoo), was killed in a
freak wipeout while surfing at Banzai Pipeline

Young Malik charged Pipe with the same “all guts-all glory” stampede he made in Tahiti’s most famous break: Teahupoo. He knew what he was doing ... which is why this accident is so disturbing.

As OP Pro champ and veteran big wave talent Pancho Sullivan notes, “It’s a wakeup call for everyone in the surf community.” It is indeed, because if you’ve seen the monster Tahitian waves Malik has conquered, you’d know without a doubt this incident at Pipe could’ve been anyone - anyone!

But this time it happened to Malik, a young man who was internationally famous and known for his skill and bravery in the world’s most dangerous surf - the same young man who was always the one at Papeete Airport to meet his Hawaii ohana. As surf photographer Sean Davey said to me, “Everyone who went to Tahiti to surf Chopo from Hawaii knew him ... he was always the one at the airport when those Hawaiian flights came ... everybody knew him ... He was like one of the boys on the North Shore.” Sean continues, “Many relatively unknown people have died at Pipeline, but he’s the first well-known professional surfer who has died ... and then there was photographer Jon Mozo last year, which was a huge loss, too ... and he wasn’t even board surfing.”

That’s how dangerous it is! Indeed, Malik Joyeux was a true ambassador of Tahitian aloha and hero of our sport. He transcended nationality and localism. The 25-year-old lived with so much to offer - including hard work on a “No Ice in Paradise” campaign in Tahiti, and ground breaking tow-ins at Chopo with a kite board! Not to forget his record-breaking 20-foot barrel wave at Tahiti’s gift of nature - Teahupoo! You just knew this young man lived to “the max” - and enjoyed it, sharing it with everyone! Let’s remember Malik’s infectious smile ... that his own name means “Happy” in French, Joyeux! Let’s build on our renewed respect for Pipeline and other heavy surf breaks. Let’s never forget Malik’s gift to us.

We’ll see you back here next weekend when we kick off the third and final jewel of the Vans Triple Crown - the Ripcurl Pipe Masters! Call 596-surf, 596-wave or 638-rush.

I’m GQ, dropping in 4 U!

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