How Pipeline Turned Into a GoPro Studio

Jamie O'Brien breaks down his latest GoPro vid at Pipe, now a gold mine for surfers with a handheld.

Jamie O is the 30-year-old Pipeline specialist (now that's a description you haven't heard for a while) who, literally, lives and breathes this very photogenic and dangerous wave.

In December, Jamie affixed a GoPro camera to his surfboard with a setup he and a friend conjured out of aluminium, fishing wire and those sticking pads that come in the GoPro camera kits.

And on the afternoon before the final day of the Pipeline Masters in December, Jamie took his contraption out at eight-to-10-foot Pipe.

"I had the pole cam and everyone was laughing at me," says Jamie. "I didn't care. I didn't drag 'cause I didn't want to ruin the shot with water drops. But the first wave, I nailed it. The perfect, bending, easy-little-dreamy one at Pipe."

The "little dreamy one" was an eight-footer, massive by any other measure, but for Jamie, who has lived his entire life within a five-second walk to where you paddle out at Pipe, yeah, it's easy.

"That was perfect. A buttery one," he said. "Usually I prefer the later drops. They're more fun, as there's another element to it. But some are easier. Like those big, crazy second reef things. They're actually easier because you can roll in."

Watch Jamie's wave here.

© Brian Bielmann/Red Bull Content Pool

Jamie adds that he lost this particular setup just one week ago and says "there must be hundreds of GoPros out at Pipe. Mark Healey lost one the other day. I lost one. Another got flooded. When the waves drop, I'm going to go diving. There must be a honey hole full of GoPros!"

He also says that apart from everyone carrying their own photographic devices, he's noticed a radical increase in the number of kids surfing at Pipe. Kids whose parents have cottoned on to the model that to be the best in the world, it helps if you can treat the Pipe, that great leveller, like a beachbreak.

"Because of John John everyone realizes that all their kids should be surfing Pipe, and so there's a hundred million kids out there," says Jamie. "I looked at this kid paddling past the other day and I couldn't even tell how old he was. I was baffled. Like, how old are you? If this kid takes a bad wipeout he'll be tripping."

How big was the surf that this tween was paddling out into?

"It was…f**k, 12 feet," says Jamie. "Gnarly!"