“Back in the day," recounted Surfer's Hall of Fame Founder Aaron Pai, "he was one of the best surfers in Huntington Beach and he has been a master shaper since the 70’s. We are super stoked to be able to induct Chris Hawk into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame.”
As one of the renowned Hawk brothers that includes Sam and Tom, Chris helped shape the Huntington Beach surf culture in the 1960s and ‘70s. While the brothers often travelled to Hawaii and charged Sunset and Pipeline, Chris chose to make his mark as a master surfboard shaper.
During one of these many Hawaiian trips, Chris met legendary shaper Dick Brewer and was taken under his tutorage alongside Reno Abellira and Davie Abbott. Chris soon became a household name on the mainland and the “go to” guy for many hard-core surfers up and down the California coast for years and years.
Chris Hawk shaping, courtesy of Darryl Dugas
"Surfing Legend Chris Hawk Dies at 58," Los Angeles KCBS newscast with Sharon Tay
(preceeded by 15 second commercial)
Huntington Beach surfer Chris Hawk dies
Hawk, 58, was inducted into the Surfers' Hall of Fame last month.
By Deepa Bharath, Orange County Register, October 24, 2009
Chris Hawk, a legendary local surfer and board shaper who was honored last month with a special induction into the Surfers' Hall of Fame, died Friday in his San Clemente home of oral cancer. He was 58.
A makeshift memorial with surfboards, photographs and flowers stood outside Huntington Surf and Sport at the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway today as local surfers paid their respects to the man who they say inspired and motivated them with his smooth, graceful and soulful surfing style.
Longtime friend and local surfer Bushman Orozco said Hawk lived with him and shaped boards out of his garage in the early 1990s.
"He had so much experience working with all these master shapers, he knew what he was doing," Orozco said.
Few words can describe Hawk's passion for surfing, he said.
"It's something to be experienced," Orozco said. "He just loved the water, the people, the lifestyle."
Hawk participated in an emotional ceremony outside Huntington Surf and Sport on Sept. 18. These inductions were typically made in July during the U.S. Open of Surfing, but a special exception was given to Hawk because he had already been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was apparently on the potential list of inductees for a long time.
Hawk, who struggled to deliver an acceptance speech during the ceremony, simply told the gathering, "This is the most honorable moment of my life." And next to his footprints on the cement, he wrote the words: Peace. Love. Surf.
Mark Reeder, who works at Huntington Surf and Sport, said he first met Hawk in 1981.
"In 1972, I decided I was going to be a surfer after watching Chris' brother, Sam, surf," Reeder said. "In 1981, I contacted Chris. He made some boards for me. He was not just a board shaper, he was a craftsman."
Still, Hawk was "humble and a super, super genuine guy," Reeder said.
"He was an true icon, an ultimate surfer everyone wanted to look like," he said. "Chris Hawk will be memorialized forever in the city of Huntington Beach."
Hawk is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his son, Christian, 11.
( Chris Hawk image courtesy of The Shaper's Tree )
Chris Hawk: Feb. 16, 1951 — Oct. 23, 2009: ‘A true inspiration’ - Ex-wife says surfer was humbled by attention from special hall of fame induction.
By Michael Miller, Huntington Beach Independent, October 28, 2009 5:06 PM PDT
... Along with his brothers, Sam and Tom, Chris Hawk won a reputation as a skilled surfer during the 1960s and ’70s. To many, though, he was more famous for shaping boards...
Gary Sahagen, the executive director of the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach, said Hawk played an integral role in what he termed “the short board revolution” of the ’70s, in which surfers began trading in their long boards for new ones that were 2 or 3 feet shorter.
“As the short board revolution of surfboards took off, he was riding that front wave, coming up with some of the most innovative designs,” Sahagen said.
Hawk was inducted into the Hall of Fame in a special ceremony that brought hundreds of people to Huntington Surf and Sport at Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway. The Hall of Fame had already inducted its usual quota of four people in July, but made an exception for Hawk, who was suffering from terminal throat cancer.
“He was a true inspiration to all of us, and he’s meant so much to the sport of surfing in Huntington Beach and in California through the way that he surfed the waves and shaped his surfboards,” said Aaron Pai, the owner of Huntington Surf and Sport. “We’ll miss Chris Hawk, but he’ll always be remembered.”
At the ceremony Sept. 18, Hawk spoke briefly to the crowd and etched a message into a concrete slab. The message read simply, “Peace — Love — Surf.”
Afterward, Hawk held up his trophy and said the induction had been a lifelong dream.
“It’s the ultimate for me in my life,” Hawk said. “This is it.”
Monday, the concrete slab in front of Surf and Sport, which also features Hawk’s hand and footprints, was circled with flowers, candles and tributes written on sheets of paper.
One read, “Best shaper in the world,” while another declared, “Chris, you caught the wave to heaven.”
Chris Hawk’s ex-wife, Kathy Hawk Margerum, who divorced him in 1979 but remained close over the years, said Chris Hawk was humbled by the attention he received in the weeks before his death.
“He was a very independent, just a very simple man with a beautiful soul,” she said. “All this attention that’s being bestowed on him, believe me, he didn’t know people thought that much about him. I’m so grateful he got to hear all that and know all that before he went.”
Bob Ballou, a surfer and longtime friend of Hawk, has scheduled a paddle-out in his memory at 11 a.m. Sunday on the north side of the Huntington Beach Pier.
The paddle-out is open to everyone.
Hawk will be remembered as a surfer and shaper, Ballou said, but also as a compassionate friend who often served as a “big brother” to aspiring surfers.
“I think he tried to take everybody at face value and accept them at face value,” he said. “He was just a warm guy. He was my friend. I loved him.”
Pat Lien, the manager of Chuck Dent Surfboards in Huntington Beach, said Hawk had a reputation as a master craftsman.
“In the ’80s, he was the guy the locals wanted their boards made by,” he said. “You were kind of somebody if you had his board in the water.”
Hawk is survived by his son, brothers and sister.