Out of the Woodwork

Sometimes the best man for the job isn’t the one you’d expect. Reese Patterson, going to town on a death-defying day at Pipeline. Photo: Gilley

When you hear about someone totally killing it, someone surfing the guts out of it on the day of the year, it’s usually some famous pro. But every once in a while a story surfaces about some random dude—an underground ripper who comes out of the woodwork and dominates the conditions. Over the years I would occasionally hear such tales, and they included names like Jimmy Lucas, Zen del Rio, Mikey Meyer, Greg Russ, Ryan Moore, Randall Paulson, and David Scard.

On one occasion, I got to witness one of these unexpected performances myself. It was primetime North Shore season and a super-strong, relatively early west swell arrived at a sand-less Pipeline. Big, mean 10 to 15 footers barely backed off Second Reef and steamrolled through the Banzai Bowl like no day I had seen before or since. This was macking, death-defying Pipe.

Most of the usual suspects were out, and Derek Ho in particular was surfing really well. But there was one guy who was mad-dogging it so hard—just frothing and going on everything and getting so psychotically pitted that it made everyone pay attention and ask, “Who the f–k is that guy?”
As it turns out, this guy was from Redondo Beach, California and his name was Reese Patterson. And, as a fitting tribute to his performance, that day at Pipe has been informally referred to as “the Reese Patterson day” ever since.


So here’s a shout out to the Reese Pattersons of the world: may you rip so hard that you get to have an entire day named after you.

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