The Top Banzai Pipeline Moments of All Time

Banzai Pipeline As arguably the best wave in the world, Banzai Pipeline has hosted too many historic moments in surfing to count. From Bruce Brown’s documentation of the early waves surfed at Pipeline in the 1960s to Gerry Lopez’s revolutionizing style in the 70s and too many legendary Pipe Masters heats to count, Pipeline has played host to more surf history than arguably any other wave on the planet. With the most iconic wave on the North Shore and in the world just up the road from our North Shore Surf School at Turtle Bay, we decided to dive into the rich history of the Banzai Pipeline in The Top Banzai Pipeline Moments of All Time.


Film Maker Bruce Brown Documents Early Surfers at Banzai Pipeline

Banzai Pipeline
Image Credit: Bruce Brown Films


In 1961, two traveling surfers from California arrived on Oahu. The two surfers (Phil Edwards and Mike Diffenderfer, are credited as the first modern surfers to take on the waves at Banzai Beach. The very next day, the pair returned with the late Endless Summer filmmaker Bruce Brown, who captured the session on film. Many of the waves surfed that day can be seen in the 1962 film Hollow Days. When the trio was leaving the beach, they noticed a pile of concrete pipes at a nearby construction site. Noticing the similar shape to the waves they had just surfed, Edwards suggested Bruce Brown call the place Pipeline.


Andy vs. Kelly

Banzai Pipeline
Image Credit:


In 2006, in what is now known as the greatest day in Pipeline Masters competitive history, established multi-world champion Kelly Slater faced a young Andy Irons at the height of one of his greatest runs. In less than stellar conditions, two of the best to ever do it went head-to-head in a heat with palpable tension. Andy ended up getting the best of the now the eleven-time world champion, Kelly Slater, by surfing out of his mind. Andy surfed so aggressively that he actually broke his board mid-heat and rode his last wave with a buckled board.


Jamie O’Brien Wins the Pipe Masters as a Wild Card

Banzai Pipeline


In 2004, a young Jamie O’Brien secured a wild card slot at the Pipe Masters thanks to his undeniable mastery of the wave after growning up with it in his backyard. Jamie put on a show in undeniably serious waves, switching stance inside barrels and landing airs on the inside. JOB took out six-time world champion Kelly Slater to make the finals an all-Hawaiian event. In the final against Sunny Garcia, Kalani Robb, and Bruce Irons, JOB took off on the first three waves of the heat and solidified a winning score with a 7, an 8, and a 9.97.


Bethany Hamilton Wins the Women’s Pipe Pro

Banzai Pipeline
Image Credit: Yahoo


Bethany Hamilton has done more to prove she’s a one-of-a-kind water woman without even counting her success as a competitive surfer. After a horrific tiger shark attack left her without a left arm, the then 13-year older aspiring pro surfer found her way back into the water after just a month. Hamilton then went on to achieve a slew of professional accomplishments and accolades, including an appearance and event win at the 2014 women’s event at Banzai Pipeline.


Simon Anderson Proves Three Fins is Better Than Two


Banzai Pipeline
Image Credit: Surfing Walk of Fame


Simon Anderson’s thruster fin placement design originally debuted at Bell’s Beach in 1981. Despite Anderson’s event win at Bells, many still had their doubts about the effectiveness of Anderson’s three-fin design. A win at Pipeline on top of his signature thruster shaped by Garry McNab would prove the thruster was just what surfing was missing.   


The World Title on the Line Italo vs. Medina

Banzai Pipeline
Image Credit: Surfline


In 2019, at the height of the Brazilian Storm, two-time world champion Gabriel Medina faced off against Italo Ferreira at the Pipe Masters finals. Italo was all that stood in the way of Medina’s third world title. To the demise of Medina and his massive fanbase, the flying Brazilian, Italo Ferreira, stood his ground and earned his title through an erratic and electric display of surfing that would go on to define his career.



If you want to stay down the road from the world-famous Banzai Pipeline, book your stay at Turtle Bay Resort. To take on the waves of the North Shore without the danger of paddling out at Pipeline, sign up for a North Shore Surf Lesson in Turtle Bay.

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