After three straight lay days, a solid swell hit the North Shore of Oahu at midday, allowing the 30th Anniversary Vans Triple Crown of Surfing to get up and running.
Lopez, 35, was impressive with a series of aerials that took him into the early lead of the Hawaiian Air Show, the competition that offers 250,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles for the top aerialist of the series.
"Today's the perfect day to go for the Hawaiian Air miles," said Lopez. "There's a couple of long lefts where you can get a lot of speed and do the big air and the wind's perfect for it.
"I missed a lot of time in the water. I had a bad foot injury so this is the first event I've done in about four months. It's gonna take a little bit of a miracle for me to qualify, but the opportunity is there, but I'll need a good run so I'll give it my best and see where I go."
Australia's Nathan Hedge continued his bid to get back onto the ASP World Tour with victory in his round of 128 heat.
The 33-year-old, who has been out of action for action, is looking to pick up points in the Vans Triple Crown to help him in his 2013 qualification campaign.
"I took two years off and I'm refocused and got a new perspective, a new outlook and I'm enthusiastic again," said Hedge.
"Starting on the tour young, it teaches you a lot of things and it's interesting having the perspective of not being on tour and getting back on. I've got a new appreciation for it and I think surfing's come a long way. I'm just really excited to back and get another chance."
"If you do well in Hawaii it can change things. I've had a lot of support and backing over the years, so now I'm back for myself and it needs to come from me."
Round of 128 results:
H1: Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 10.83pts; Torrey Meister (HAW) 10.17pts; Makai NcNamara (HAW) 7.17pts; Eala Stewart (HAW) 5.17pts
H2: Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 13.26pts; Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 11.50pts; Kiron Jabour (HAW) 9.03pts; Derek Ho (HAW) 5.77pts
H3: Stu Kennedy (AUS) 12.10pts ; O'Connell Dege (HAW) 8.80pts ; Nakamura Gregg (HAW) 4.54pts ; Dale Staples (ZAF)
H4 : Alain Riou (PYF) 12.60pts ; Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 11.93pts ; Nic Muscroft (AUS) 10.93pts ; Kaimana Jaquias (HAW) 10.60pts
H5 : Billy Kemper (HAW) 11.20pts ; Cory Lopez (USA) 10.33pts ; Ian Gentil (HAW) 8.90pts ; Blake Thornton 6.73pts
H6 : Hank Gaskell (HAW) 14.67pts ; Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 10.27pts ; Marcus Hickman (HAW) 7.50pts ; Kai Barger (HAW) 5.73pts
H7 : Marc Lacomare (FRA) 13.37pts ; Davey Cathels (AUS) 11.50pts ; Heath Joske (AUS) 8.50pts ; Myles Padaca (HAW) 6.37pts
H8 : Alex Smith (HAW) 8.07pts ; Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 7.50pts ; Tim Reyes (USA) 7.10pts ; Joel Centeio (HAW) 1.53pts
H9: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 13.63pts; Koa Smith (HAW) 12.43pts; Jano Belo (BRA) 12.24pts; Roy Powers (HAW) 11.20pts
H10: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 13.57pts; Tom Whitaker (AUS) 13.33pts; Flavio Nakagima (BRA) 11.57pts; Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 4.50pts
H11: Garrett Parkes (AUS) 13.10pts; Billy Stairmand (NZL) 11.93pts; Ian Walsh (HAW) 10.57pts; Nic Von Rupp (DEU) 9.00pts
H12 : Mason Ho (HAW) 15.53pts ; Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 10.67pts ; Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 7.70pts ; Flynn Novak (HAW) 5.73pts