Phlogging Michael: A Gulf Coast Photo Gallery With The Lopez’s & Co.

October 19, 2018 • Photos, Swell Gallery

For all of hurricane Michael’s cat 5 rage, fury and the imminent death and destruction it would cause the Panhandle and beyond as it spun by just offshore of Florida’s densely populated west coast there was a small window of opportunity for a few hours of waves at an un-named post dredge sandbar just beyond the Tampa – Saint Petersburg area. You may also know this mellow, barrier island town by it’s name Indian Rocks Beach, home to two of  surfings most versatile, and well known former World Tour competitors, Shea and Cory Lopez. I’ve never had much luck scoring waves all the way across the other side of the Peninsula from my Melbourne Beach home base near Sebastian Inlet striking out four of the four times I’ve decided to chase the elusive, fickle, nearly unpredictable hurricane surf there which is a 6 hour round trip drive to boot. However, with sage advice from Indian Rocker Shea Lopez, I decided to roll the dice once again and, finally, the fifth time was the charm. Here’s my photoblog ( phlog ) from a day you would hardly call epic wave-wise but it was all that and more to me in the way of having an adventure, getting to see and hang out with the Lopez clan and friends on their home turf and finally witnessing waves I’ve fruitlessly chased there for over 30 years since moving to Florida. – Mez –

It was a slabby-ish sandbar affair  at IRB, well as much as 3-4 foot waves can be on Florida’s western Gulf Coast anyways. Photo: Mez

Little Luke takes the big walk back up to the top of the beach after the swift and strong currents carried him a quarter mile up the beach after the ride. Photo: Mez

Uncle Shea decided to double the fun and soft topped it for most of his session. The way these little sand sucking vipers were planting people onto the hard packed, wet cement-like sugar sand in a foot or two of water it really was not a bad equipment choice at all just for general safetey reasons alone. Photo: Mez

Shea, the good big brother he is, helping sis Ashley Lopez fin up her board. Photo: Mez

Cory Lopez, Chopes Psycho-man, true Pipeline Master and all around heavy water wizard took his first steps towards Hellman status surfing here at this Indian Rocks wave just a few blocks away from the home he and Shea grew up in. Photo: Mez

Little bro’ Matty Lopez following firmly in the Lopez family tradition of impeccable tube riding skills no matter the size of the wave. Photo: Mez

Papi Cory walking back up the beach with son Luke ( on right ) and his bud Rad Regar. Photo: Mez

Shea-lo cranks it on the softie and heads for the slab suck-up section. Photo: Mez

The pizza gallery ( l-r ) Ashley Lopez, photog Christian Oehmke, Shea-lo, Ian Atkins and Alex Chaplin stays dry while refueling for another session. Despite the windy, rainy weather nobody could leave the beach or take their eye’s off the rare waves nor some of the crazy little wipe-out’s going down. Photo: Mez

I saw two turns the entire 5 hours I spent shooting during hurricane Michael- one nice tail waft by Cory and this dirty little Dustin Richardson backside bucket thrower. Advantage Richardson. Sequence: Mez

Indian Rocks Beach- not big but sure as hell fun. Photo: Mez

And a special guest appearance by …Lost co-founder, longtime Lopez family friend and board sponsor as well as area local Mr. Mike Reola. Photo: Mez

Cory un-corks one on one of the rare open faces available this day. Photo Mez

Gulf Coast surf predicting has always been a mystery to me. Michael, with it’s cat 5 status just a few hundred miles offshore producing just 3-5 foot waves at Indian Rocks, only just deepens my curiosity and resolve to catch it truly firing over there one day. All Cory Lopez knew was that he was getting barreled off his tukus at his home break and leave the science for others to ponder. Photo: Mez

Speaking of crazy little wipe-outs… Cory goes down hard in sandbar raspberry rash city. Photo: Mez

Always time for a a slice of last nights pizza in the rain with sick little beach break bombs detonating right in front of you. Cory, Luke and Matty no doubt starved for food and one more go out before the winds finally gave way to on-shores. Photo: Mez

Photo one: Uncle Matty Lopez get’s dropped in on by nephew Luke …

… and good naturedly laughs it off reveling in the magic of the moment like any good uncle would. Photo: Mez