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Pipeline, Surfing's Best Left Hander
Who is the world's best left hander? Jimi Hendrix? Phil Mickelson? Babe Ruth? Perhaps. But let's talk about surfing, and waves. The Pipeline left. Or to newbies, "The Banzai Pipeline." Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, to what many call the best and most dangerous wave in the world. Notorious for large winter swells breaking in shallow water just above a sharp and cavernous reef, has been home to countless professional surfers and has claimed, unfortunately, many lives. A world-class wave to which professional surfers gather to year-after-year to compete in the prestigious Pipeline Masters and Volcom Pipe Pro, in high hopes of being added to the iconic list of "Pipe Masters."
To a casual spectator standing on the beach Pipeline may look like a repetitious, learned-wave, but for every surfer who's been courageous enough to take on that beast, knows each wave is a very different creature. The slightest hesitation, the one-second mistiming, the wrong board, can be the difference between a fatal blow and a wave of your life.
There are four famous waves associated with Pipeline. The left, known as Pipeline (a.k.a. First Reef), is the well-known and most photographed of the four. The right, known as Backdoor, is the same wave as Pipeline, but breaks in the other direction. Then there's Second Reef, which breaks farther outside when the swells gets larger, and Third Reef sitting way outside, which doesn't break often, but when the swells are massive, gets its chance to shine.
So why is Pipeline the world's best left hander? Aside from the media attention, iconic surfers who've earned their reputation there: Gerry Lopez, Shaun Tomson, Mark Richards, Michael & Derek Ho, Tom Carroll, Kelly Slater, Jamie O'Brien, Andy Irons, John John Florence, etc., status as the world's most dangerous wave, and so on, it's more personal than that. Let's take a look and jot down some memorable points of difference that the Pipeline left offers more than any other single wave in the world.