Tuesday, December 29, 2009

1920s St. Ouen's Bay

Some of the intriguing 1920s images from Pete Robinson's Museum of British Surfing:

Jeremy Oxenden wrote about the image above: "Happy New Year, Malcolm. I was very pleased to find Peter Robinson and the UK Surfing Museum from the Bing site links. That is Oxo with the 5.5 prone surfboard. He surfed in Hawaii some time between 1919 - 1923. It must have been great fun back then. The Island Surf Club of Jersey UK was formed in 1923..."

Jeremy added this about the top image: "The Girls in the beach hut are Dot and Ching Martin, left and right, and Pat Oxenden in the middle. The beach hut went up in 1924. The German Army knocked all the beach huts down in 1940. My Grand Parents re-built their hut just after the war (WWII). It was their top priority. We still have the beach hut and still surf from there... Thank you for including Oxo and his surfing Gang."

Monday, December 07, 2009

Waikiki Surf Club Newsletter

Ian Lind continues documenting the days of the Waikiki Surf Club, thanks to the collection of memorabilia his father John Lind left behind.

The latest is a series of scanned images of the club's newsletter "The Surfer" dated 1954-1956.

For more on the Lind collection of Waikiki Surf Club images, please go to:

Waikiki Surf Club Images by John Lind

Also, In 2002, John Lind was asked for his recollections of the founding of the Molokai to Oahu canoe race on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

These are saved by Ian at: Molokai to Oahu canoe race history

Monday, November 30, 2009

Shorty Bronkhorst (1936-2009)

Legendary South African surfer Shorty Bronkhorst recently passed on.

[ From: "Death of SA surfing pioneer Shorty Bronkhorst in J-Bay," by Robbie Hift and Clayton Truscott, HERALD, November 30, 2009 ]

THE South African surfing community is shocked and saddened by the death of legendary surfing enthusiast Shorty Bronkhorst, 73, in Jeffreys Bay...

Bronkhorst was a pioneer who first surfed Jeffreys Bay in the early 1960s. He started surfing in the summer of 1949 in Durban and was still doing it more than 50 years later at Super Tubes and Surfers Point...

He started out as a professional lifesaver in Durban where he surfed on 5m boards made out of plywood at South Beach, North Beach and the Bay of Plenty.

When Bronkhorst turned 19 in 1956, he and a friend hitchhiked across Africa via Johannesburg, the former Lourenco Marques and Rhodesia, on to Uganda, Sudan and Egypt, eventually arriving in London.

In 1957 he went to Jersey and began building the first surfboards there and was invited to do surf promotions for a travel company. The big tour buses full of spectators arrived to watch Bronkhorst and his friends from the long breakwater.

They were called “the Hawaiian surfboard riders from South Africa”.

Bronkhorst once said: “We first surfed Jeffreys Bay in the early sixties. It was a bit of a secret spot then. I fell in love with the place as soon as I arrived. We used to ride Supertubes on a primo day with just three guys in the water and 3m waves pealing from Boneyards down to the Point.”

He offered this advice for fellow surfers: “Surfing has always been a noble sport. We should try to keep it that way. Tell the youngsters to be polite in the water. Show some respect towards others and you will be appreciated much more than if you just drop in on everybody else.

“It’s unnecessary to sneak around the waiting surfers and catch a sly wave. Rather just get in line and wait your turn. The guys will think more of you if you do so.”

Eastern Province Surfing president Etienne Venter said he was deeply saddened by the news and had nothing but praise for Bronkhorst...

“He’s one of the biggest legends of South African surfing [said Eastern Province Surfing president Etienne Venter]. He always greeted you and was really friendly. It’s such a terrible loss for us, he was really loved by everyone.”

Democratic Alliance MP Tim Harris... said: “The African Surfer crew sends condolences to the family and friends of Shorty Bronkhorst – one of the original surfing pioneers on the continent. We never knew Shorty, but he and his crew were among the first explorers of surfing in the rest of Africa.

“We are grateful for the path they blazed in promoting surfing in South Africa and on the rest of the continent. May you rest in peace Shorty.”

There [was]... a paddle-out at Surfers Point... November 28, at 10am. Bronkhorst’s ashes [were]... scattered in the sea off the beach where he did most of his surfing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lisa Andersen

[ Excerpts from: "The Lioness in Winter," by Shawn Price, Orange Coast Magazine, October 2009 ]

... Lisa Lorraine Andersen was born in New York and grew up the free-willed tomboy nicknamed “Trouble” in the non-surf-centered lands of Maryland and Virginia. Finally, at age 13, she learned to ride on borrowed boards off Ormand Beach, Fla., a few blocks from the family home. “I started surfing right after my parents told me I couldn’t do it,” Andersen told a Brazilian TV reporter many years later.

Once she got her first in-control ride, she was hooked. Riding a wave felt instinctively right for her at a time when nothing else in her life was.

She ran away from home at 16, blaming a stormy home life with a violent, alcoholic father who Andersen says smashed her only surfboard in front of her. Her first plane ride was the one-way ticket she bought in 1985 that took her from Florida to L.A. and then to Huntington Beach, off to become “the No. 1 surfer in the world,” her farewell note said. She swears she didn’t even know for sure if the title existed.

After her arrival, Andersen spent a couple of years “couch surfing” among friends and occasionally sleeping on the beach as she worked herself up to the pro tour. She showed glimpses of greatness, but they ebbed and flowed as she bounced around the top 10 of the Association of Surfing Professionals’ Women’s World Tour for six years. Only after having her daughter, Erica, did things finally gel into a 1994 world championship. Motherhood seemed to focus her phenomenal energy.

She followed that first world title with three more. Her style was revolutionary, because she’d surfed around boys as she grew up, guys who actually encouraged her. She idolized world champs Martin Potter, Shaun Tomson, and especially Tom Curren, and developed her style mostly unaware of how girls were supposed to surf. She exhibited both a power and refined, balletlike movement on the face of waves. Shy but steely. Graceful and feminine, yet fiercely competitive. Soon, even the guys were watching her heats.

“It’s this slam-dance idea,” says Chris Mauro, former editor-in-chief of Surfer magazine, describing the style Andersen was quickly defining. “She was this punk-rock chick who could fit in with the boys.”

In 1996, Andersen made news when she became the first woman in 15 years to grace the cover of Surfer — an image of her smashing the lip of a wave with the blunt caption “Lisa Andersen surfs better than you.” It was a knife to the heart of surfing machismo.

Mauro believes Andersen was the right woman at the right time. “In the longboard era [of the ’60s], women like the Calhouns [Marge and daughters Candy and Robin] were respected. When the shortboard revolution took over, the women fell by the wayside because it wasn’t this graceful kind of thing. Lisa was transformative.”

Her presence on the tour was a marketer’s dream. Surfwear company Quiksilver built the Roxy brand mostly around her image and a pair of men’s boardshorts she helped redesign. She lit an explosion of women into surfing, both professional and recreational. Women’s brands and magazines sprang up, with women’s apparel playing a key role in the surf industry boom of the ’90s.

Mauro says the empowerment message was, first, practical. Women could surf and “didn’t have to worry about their bikini riding up their ass anymore. The shorts were cute and they worked. And it coincided with the [1999 World Cup-winning U.S.] women’s soccer team. They fed off each other. [Women] weren’t going to run out and buy a soccer uniform, but they could go out and buy Roxy stuff.”

In Phil Jarratt’s 2006 history of Quiksilver, “The Mountain and the Wave,” Roxy boss Randy Hild gushed: “She’d been with Roxy since ’92, but her star was just starting to shine. She became the face of the whole thing. Lisa just shattered the beach-babe-or-butch stereotype of women’s surfing. … We couldn’t have dreamed of a better brand image. She was — and is — one of a kind.”

While a phenomenon to the outside world, Andersen struggled in relationships. As Mauro says, years on the road make pro surfers “pretty feral.” It’s a restless life set to a clock of ever-fleeting swell. Life lived out of a suitcase. Nights in hotels, on friends’ floors, in boats, planes, and tents. Days are for honing craft and nights for blowing off steam, or simply killing time. It’s a lot like summer camp, right down to the romances, which start intensely and fizzle as fast as they begin.

“It’s really tough to reconcile,” Mauro says. “And she didn’t have a family to depend on.”

She began a relationship with Renato Hickel, the tour’s head judge at the time, but the closeness of their professional lives cramped her style. Once their relationship began, Hickel had to recuse himself from judging her heats. Their marriage sputtered shortly after Erica’s birth. She and Hickel remain friends, even occasional allies when it comes to getting things right on the current women’s tour.

She’d competed while pregnant and rushed back to competition just weeks after Erica’s birth. Though she continued to win, her body was not ready for the stress of the tour and contests. A degenerative disk condition was beginning to make surfing difficult during her 1994-97 championship run. By late 1998, competing became almost impossible.

Andersen says she intended to retire that year, but like a lot of top athletes, finding the exit was harder than she expected. Life on tour was like a riptide, pulling her back out for one last great ride to shore. Besides, her back problems deprived her of a certain grand finale. She competed sporadically the next few years, before finally retiring in 2003.

A few years earlier, a relationship with the father of her son, Mason, ended. An outsider to the surf world, Mason’s father probably never stood a chance against the lure of what led Andersen away from home in the first place — the competitive life that defined her then.

In 2005, Quiksilver offered her the job of global brand ambassador for Roxy, a role that would make her part coach, part businesswoman, part enforcer of contest guidelines, part confidante to the young women on the tour. It offered her the chance to take a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-did role that many girls competing during Andersen’s career could have used—especially from someone who really had seen it all...

“I was a little overwhelmed,” she says now. “There were just all these different people who could relate to me somehow. They’re still dealing with the same issues. I think a lot of girls are afraid to step outside and do something where they’re going to get judged. I dressed a certain way and a lot of people didn’t like that. I wasn’t really girlie. … They need to be inspired by somebody that did it without worrying about what other people say or think. They need that little nudge.”

Rochelle Ballard, a former World Tour rival and one of Andersen’s closest friends, distills Andersen’s continuing appeal: “Women are empowered by seeing a woman fulfill her own dream and find her own balance. She had something driving her more than her goals. Because of the timing, she was the Wonder Woman of the group. In art and entertainment there is always someone that rises to be an iconic figure.”

And now, perhaps because of all that, Ballard says, “Lisa is the only woman who was taken care of by the industry after her competitive career. Now she has the opportunity to share herself with the next generation so they can say, ‘Look what Lisa did.’ You may peak in your career, but you keep growing. Life is creation. You make your own rules.”

... Andersen concedes that the elder stateswoman role is an adjustment. “There’s a couple of times in the last four years when my brain would go: ‘OK, I could start training in January.’ In your head you try to plan it out and see if it works. Then I think: ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ ”

... Andersen is thrilled to see more strategy in women’s heats now. Thrilled to see more training. More prep. And more respect given to female athletes. “You should see the game faces now,” Andersen says about the contests she visits. “I walk around telling people to lighten up.” She forgets for the moment how intimidating she was before heats, her head shrouded in a beach towel...

Achievements in Surfing
  • 4 consecutive world titles (1994-97)
  • 24 contest victories, including wins at events in Europe, Australia, and Huntington Beach, where she won the U.S. Open twice (1994 and ’97), and the OP Pro (1995)
  • 1987 Association of Surfing Professionals Women’s Rookie of the Year
  • No. 76 among the “Greatest Sportswomen of the Century,” Sports Illustrated for Women
  • 1992, 1994, 1996-1999 Surfer magazine Readers Poll winner
  • Named one of the “25 Most Influential Surfers of the Century” by Surfer magazine
  • Eleven top-10 season finishes, and seven top-five finishes on the Women’s World Tour
  • 1998 Female Athlete of the Year, Condé Nast Sports for Women magazine

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chris Hawk (1951-2009)

Chris Hawk, shaper and surfer, has passed on.

“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.

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: 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.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Duke Boyd Talks Story on KPBS

[ From: Hang Ten Founder Talks Surfing In 1960s, Evolution Of Industry | KPBS.org, by Maureen Cavanaugh and Hank Crook, September 30, 2009 - includes downloadable audio recording of the interview ]

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Surfers tend to think of themselves and their sport as separated from the mainstream. There's always been a mystique about the men and women who catch the waves. But there was a time when surfing was not just separated from the mainstream, it was virtually unknown outside of a few beachside communities. It was in this atmosphere that my guest, Duke Boyd, developed his love of surfing and his life's work. Duke Boyd is co-founder of Hang Ten surf wear, the first surf wear clothing line. The story of how Boyd helped create the modern surfing image is fascinating, but it's only one of a variety of ways that surfing has captured and defined his life. Duke will be in Oceanside this weekend at the California Surf Museum. He’s been named as this year's honoree at the surf museum's annual "Legends Day." And it’s my pleasure to welcome Duke Boyd to These Days. Good morning, Duke.

DUKE BOYD (Co-founder, Hang Ten Clothing Line): Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: And Jim Kempton is here. He’s president of the California Surf Museum. Jim, thanks for coming in.

JIM KEMPTON (President, California Surf Museum): Yeah, you’re welcome. Nice to be here.

CAVANAUGH: And we invite our listeners to join the conversation. If you’ve got questions about the golden age of surfing in California in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, you can ask an official surfing legend. Give us a call, 1-888-895-5727, that’s 1-888-895-KPBS. Duke, let me ask you, when did you start surfing?

BOYD: Originally, probably not fair but the first time was 1946 when I moved to Hawaii and I started surfing at Waikiki. Actually I wasn’t surfing, I was just sort of like accidentally riding waves that I was lucky enough to catch a – find a board and paddle in on. But I really started surfing in 1957.

CAVANAUGH: When you came here?

BOYD: California.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, right.

BOYD: Yeah, while I was in California.

CAVANAUGH: Now, what was it that really hooked you about surfing?

BOYD: I think the same thing that hooks everybody about surfing. It becomes something that becomes very personal, and that’s probably the mystique behind the whole thing. Everyone says if you’re a surfer, then you know what the feeling is, well, that’s exactly what it is. You have to basically go surfing. If you know the feeling, if you like it, you’re a surfer. If you don’t like it, you don’t.

CAVANAUGH: Now, when you were kind of catching those waves on any kind of board you could find in Hawaii, and when you first came here to California, what were people wearing when they were going surfing?

BOYD: Well, pretty much the surfers themselves, just the surfers themselves, were wearing trunks that were in the fashion world of a Filipino man named M. Nee, who made surf trunks on the west shore for the movie stars like, well, like all the movie stars who came to town and hung out with Duke Kahanamoku. That really was the style, high in the front, low in the back, a little bit longer leg, that type of a thing. That sort of evolved over the years to different – to a style different than that but it was far different than the Jantzen what we call bun huggers type of thing, which were not – which were good in Australia but – and a very good surf trunk, but not necessarily very fashionable.

CAVANAUGH: Now tell us where the idea – Now what I understand it is, you brought some sketches to a woman who was – worked as a seamstress and had a little clothing line herself. What did those sketches look like and what was she intrigued with when you brought them in?

BOYD: Well, they were pencil drawings and they were really made for the purpose of me making some money while I was going to college. And I showed them to her and it was really a jacket picture, a surfing jacket. But underneath the jacket were the trunks and she knew that she could make the trunks so she asked me to make the samples up, which I did with my – with a lady named Grace West, who was out of Seal Beach. I made them up, brought them back to her, she priced them out, $3.75 each, and I went out and sold them and that’s how it started.

CAVANAUGH: And who came up with the name Hang Ten? How did that happen?

BOYD: Well, it was a – it was a collaborated deal. We were discussing what to do and she said to me, she said what would be the equivalent of a hole in one to surfing? And hang ten, at that time, was the answer. I mean, perching on the end of a nose was a very, very important thing to do in surfing in that day.

CAVANAUGH: And the woman that we’re talking about, the co-founder of Hang Ten, was Doris Moore.

BOYD: Doris Moore, right. She was a very experienced lady out of New York who basically was a shopper. She would go from Macy’s to Gimbles and all that, to get prices on clothing. And so she knew what she was doing and she was doing – when I met her, she was doing dickeys, which were little collars that were in the era of Mamie Eisenhower’s. When that ended and the Kennedys came in, she was sort of like out of business and that’s when I walked in the door.

CAVANAUGH: And so we’re talking about the early ‘60s here.

BOYD: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: And you would take the trunks and the original sort of Hang Ten outfits and you’d sell them – try to sell them in surf shops up and down the coast, right?

BOYD: Well, I tried to sell them.


BOYD: That was – The surf shops were sort of like the nut to crack because they really didn’t have any sense of that type of thing. They only made surfboards and they didn’t even have wax at the time. They fixed dings. They would – You’d buy your wax paraffin from the grocery store. So it was really no one in the surfing business had any idea how to merchandise anything else besides the surfboards.

CAVANAUGH: And did Hang Ten really start to take off when you started to advertise in, what was it, Surf – Surfer magazine?

BOYD: Yes, that – Yeah, John Severson, who started Surfer magazine, had been out – I think it was a quarterly for a couple of months, three or four months. And we quite, well, how do you say? We just moved into it, not whereas most of the surfers at that time, surf shops at that time, didn’t really have the money to advertise. And Doris basically took the plunge and said, okay, I’m going to buy the ad, took a contract for a year, and once that happened, we became known in the surfing world and the trunks that we made were good. I mean, it was – they were acceptable so our success ran right after that.

CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with Duke Boyd. He’s co-founder of Hang Ten surf wear, and he’s the – this year’s honoree at the Surf Museum in Oceanside’s annual “Legend’s Day.” We’re taking your phone calls at 1-888-895-5727. If you have memories of wearing Hang Ten surf clothes, give us a call. And I want to bring in Jim Kempton now. He’s president of the California Surf Museum. And you have some really sort of original Hang Ten clothing on right now. Tell us about it.

KEMPTON: I’m wearing a jacket that was originally modeled by Phil Edwards, one of the great surfers of that era. And at that time, getting a piece of Hang Ten clothing was hard. It was hard to find it and it was expensive by my parents’ standards. But if you were a surfer, you absolutely had to have it. And the only size they had in the jacket that I’m wearing right now was a large. I was about 110 pounds dripping wet, and I had to fold the arms up and zip it up in order to even make it look like it fit me but I grew into it and I’ve kept it for I don’t know how many years that is but at least 45 or so. And it’s still in great shape. It still looks good.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, it looks like a standard kind of a Hang Ten windbreaker. Describe it a little bit to us, the colors and what it looks like.

KEMPTON: Yeah, it’s a light blue jacket with two white stripes that…


KEMPTON: …go across it, very classic ‘60s Hang Ten style. It really is the style that Duke kind of brought into the surfing world and it became the standard wear.

CAVANAUGH: Now why did the Surf Museum choose Duke Boyd as the – your Legends honoree this year?

BOYD: I’d like to know the answer to that.

KEMPTON: Well, aside from the fact that Duke’s a friend of mine and that I wanted to roast him really badly, a lot of people, you know, in today’s world don’t know some of the really significant figures back in that day. They know some of the most famous surfers but they don’t know the story behind, you know, how the surf industry, which is now a multi-billion dollar industry, really got started. And Duke is, in many ways, to the surf industry what Duke Kahanamoku was to the surfing culture. He introduced it. He wasn’t necessarily the first person to make surf trunks and certainly not the last, but he was the person who took it around the world and made it something that was part of the culture.

CAVANAUGH: And it really sort of defined an image for the surfer that perhaps they didn’t have earlier in the ‘60s, that whole look, that whole image of the longer trunks, the, you know, and as you say, Duke, you found really some resistance with the early shops even thinking about buying anything like clothing. Isn’t that right?

BOYD: Oh, yeah, definitely. Not because they wouldn’t have wanted to do it if they had know but they were just sort of like we’re not merchants. That wasn’t what they did. And that happened for quite a while. It took quite a while to happen. I remember that when I first tried to sell a famous surf shop called Dewey Weber, and I had – and he and I ended up becoming very good friends, but during the course of that time he was a very tough customer. He wouldn’t buy me. So eventually he said, he says, okay, I’ll tell you what, I’ll buy a dozen. And I said, okay. And he says, but here’s the deal, I want them all white and I want them in size 30 so in case they don’t sell, I can wear them.

CAVANAUGH: Did you do it?

BOYD: Oh, of course, yeah. And it ended up being, you know, once you landed in the surf shop, you basically were grounded after that and you were acceptable – accepted in the – and that’s really basically what it is. It’s a very close knit culture and you just can’t be a shoulder hopper and come into the surfing world and start selling things. You have to – there’s a whole series of steps that you have to go through to be accepted.

CAVANAUGH: Well, you had a very clever marketing strategy. I don’t even know if you thought of it that way but since, you know, you weren’t selling too much to the surf shops, you would just sort of give away some clothes.

BOYD: Oh, well, that was called – Yes. That was called basically a test pilot program. I’d take different styles of trunks that we would make that were samples, not the real ones, and I would give them to different surfers, usually in Huntington Beach, places like that. And then I would sew my logo on a patch on the outside of it and it ended up being something sort of like a sought after pair of trunks to have. Yeah, that worked.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, that worked pretty good. I’m speaking with Duke Boyd, co-founder of Hang Ten surf wear and this year’s honoree at the California Surf Museum “Legends Day,” and the president of the California Surf Museum, Jim Kempton, is here as well. We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727, and Paul is calling us from Solana Beach. Good morning, Paul. Welcome to These Days.

PAUL (Caller, Solana Beach): Hey, thanks for taking my call. A couple of questions. First, what do you call that – the shirt that men used to wear in the mid-sixties and it had a vee kind of cut underneath, you know, the neck and then it had that – the leather lanyard kind of tying it together? What was that look called, do you know?

CAVANAUGH: We – Do we know, gentlemen?

KEMPTON: You stumped us.

PAUL: Oh, okay, never mind. Yeah, but the other question I had is, is all the surf gear and the surf wear now being made corporately? Or are there any independent manufacturers out there anymore left?

BOYD: Oh, yeah. There – Birdwell Britches still is alive and well, and started way back in the early sixties, also. I think – Is Cayton still…? You’d know better than I would.

KEMPTON: Well, they don’t make – The stuff they make now is made overseas.

BOYD: Oh, okay.

KEMPTON: And they’re…

BOYD: Yeah, there are a few but, you know, obviously it’s a price situation and the – If you want to have your own trunks made, that’s probably the way to go.


BOYD: Local cotton shops.

CAVANAUGH: You know, since you took the Hang Ten and made it into an industry, actually surf clothing, they estimate now that it’s a $30 billion a year industry. I mean, is that something that you hear and it’s sort of unimaginable to you?

BOYD: Well, they say it’s the surf industry but that’s – that’s a little bit – well, there’s a little bit more to it than that. When surfing first started in the ‘60s, what happened was, is that the stores, for the most part, didn’t – they didn’t sell any of those trunks at all.


BOYD: And they didn’t have a youth area. They had boys’ and they had men’s but there were no young men’s. So when surfing came about, they established a whole new area of merchandising which were the young men. So when they say surfers, what you’re really saying are young men. Where almost like a teen girl magazine, it’s the counterpart of that. They didn’t have a teen boy magazine until surfing came along. And so what you’re really seeing is surfer boys or young men disguised as surfers who basically pick up that kind of fashion.

CAVANAUGH: I see. Now, Jim, in addition to being the president of the California Surf Museum, you’re also media director for Billabong, so you’re part of this billion dollar, multi-billion dollar surf industry. It’s really sort of amazing how fast and how large it’s grown, isn’t it?

KEMPTON: It’s been an amazing climb and I don’t think anyone could have expected it, but I think that’s part of the intrigue of surfing. It has an image that people identify with and the clothing is really one of the only ways besides actually doing the act of surfing itself that you can identify with the culture of the beach, and the free and easy lifestyle and all the fun that you can have with surfing.

CAVANAUGH: You know, I want to move on and – because I know that Hang Ten is not the only clothing line you were associated with, Duke, but I do want to talk about the Hang Ten logo because that’s so important and I think it made such a big splash and, in fact, even though you don’t own the company anymore, that’s still part of the Hang Ten clothing line. Tell us, first of all, what it is and how you came up with it.

BOYD: Well, it was the end result of a conversation that we had about what we should name the company.


BOYD: And after we went through the discussion, we came up with the name Hang Ten and agreed upon it. I went home and basically painted up the two feet because it was obvious. It was like, you know, unless I was to draw someone actually hanging ten, which didn’t come to my mind, I just basically said this would be good, I’ll try that. So I put two feet on a yellow background, and it was supposed to be suntan colors, you know, on a sunset. That type of a situation. And the loose draw – writing was basically based upon the kind of writing that you’d found at Malibu where you would do the graffiti on the walls like, you know, ‘Dora can’t surf’ and things like that. And I would – I wrote it in that particular fashion so it didn’t have a store bought type look to it. It had a real rustic look to it, which is basically even the way they’re coming back to it now. Like Quicksilver’s an example of, instead of store bought type, a Quicksilver look is basically a graffiti look.

CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with Duke Boyd. He is this year’s Surf Museum’s Legend for the California Surf Museum this year. And I’m speaking with the president of the California Surf Museum, Jim Kempton. We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. And Ron Sizemore is calling from Laguna Beach. Good morning, Ron. Welcome to These Days.

RON SIZEMORE (Caller, Laguna Beach): Good morning. Thank you very much for taking my call. I really appreciate it. And I’d like to say good morning to Jim and good morning to Duke. How are you guys doing?

BOYD: Good morning.

KEMPTON: Doing great. How are you, Mr. Sizemore?

SIZEMORE: Just fine, thank you. Hey, Duke, I don’t know if you remember but back in the early sixties, I was hitchhiking out of Corona del Mar into – out of Laguna Beach into Corona del Mar, and you picked me up in your woody wagon and you’d been going to some of the men’s clothing stores, I believe, in Laguna because, like you said, you hadn’t gotten your trunks into the surf shops at that time. And after I got out of the car, I remember you gave me a pair of trunks to wear to the beach when I went surfing to get exposure, and I’d like to think that I was maybe one of your first team riders.

BOYD: You were the very first one, Ron.

SIZEMORE: Are you kidding?

BOYD: You were – Not only that, anybody who can put their heels over and go through the pier backwards, deserves to be the first one.

SIZEMORE: Ah, I thought there was some before me. Gee.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you so much for the call, Ron. That’s great. You know, just hearing that phone call evokes a whole idea of what the beach community was like in the ‘60s and it was a freer, more open time. Do you – Do people really understand that this is why they call it the golden age of surfing, I wonder, Jim?

KEMPTON: Well, I think anytime you have the pioneering age, everything is being discovered and discovery is such a, you know, such a great, exciting experience to have. And everything was being invented at that time. You know, surfboard design was being invented and surf clothing was being invented, surf culture in general. The whole language that we used to describe the things that were being done that had never been done before, you had to give them a name. And so there’s – the whole culture of surfing developed during that era and still today is, you know, the great hold, I think, on people’s fascination about the sport and the lifestyle.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. Leah is calling from La Mesa. Good morning, Leah. Welcome to These Days.

LEAH (Caller, La Mesa): Hello. I was just calling because I heard the show and I was – I grew up in the South Bay in Torrance and I just remember, you know, Hang Ten was just so much a part of our lives, you know, the whole surf culture, because it was so close to the beach. And my uncle was a longboard surfer, I think, back in the ‘30s and I just have such fond memories of that and Van Doren tennis shoes and it was just such a – I mean, I never surfed in my life. I went to the beach. But it just – But I hear you, I just ordered a Hang Ten shirt off the internet and – or a sweatshirt and I love it and my – I was showing it to my kids, I’m like, look, I have a Hang Ten sweatshirt, and they looked at me like, yeah, what’s that supposed to mean? You know, so it’s just great to hear the show.

CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you for the call, Leah. That’s very nice. You know, I want everyone to be aware of the fact that Hang Ten was not the only clothing company that you were associated with. Duke, you founded another one called Lightning Bolt in the 1970s. What was the difference between Hang Ten and Lightning Bolt?

BOYD: Probably an era. About ten years had gone by and – but there was a similarity in the sense that Hang Ten was for really a definite part of the middle of the golden era in which everything was being discovered. And Lightning Bolt ended up being a part of the last part of the golden era in which the values of free surfing and non-commercialism and really a small little knit group of surfers being – the story being told. That all changed and started going heavily into professional surfing, which ended up sort of like splitting the story about surfing into surfing – professional surfings (sic) were making the bumper sticker that – what everyone was talking about. And the free surfing basically slipped into the past and wasn’t necessarily as well received or admired.

CAVANAUGH: Now Lightning Bolt, Jim, was – had a lot to do with wetsuits and the term body glove came into fashion, is that correct?

KEMPTON: Well, Body Glove was one of the early wetsuits and Duke actually was working with them at a particular time during that time. But one of the things about Lightning Bolt that was so memorable is, is that like rock ‘n roll, there was a period in the mid-sixties that everything changed and you went from doing be-bop kind of music to doing – I mean, doo-wop kind of music to doing psychedelic electric guitar. And the short board revolution, which happened almost simultaneously with that, was the same thing in surfing. So what had happened was there was a whole new generation of kids in the ‘70s that were riding short boards, almost, again, reinventing the whole act of surfing and, therefore, everything else was needed, including their equipment, the kind of words and descriptions they used, the kind of clothing they wore, the kind of culture they had. And so Lightning Bolt kind of became the Hang Ten of this new era.

CAVANAUGH: That’s really fascinating. And I want to make sure everyone knows, too, clothing design is not the limit of your connection with surfing, Duke. I mean, you’ve been a surf photographer and a filmmaker and an author. You have a new book, “Legends of Surfing” with your surf photographs. Do you – What do you find enjoyable about, I wonder specifically, about taking photographs of surfers?

BOYD: Well, one of the things is – There’s two parts to it. One part is when they’re actually in the water and you try to find the different angles and all the diff – there’s a whole evolution in terms of surf photography, also. The other part is, is sort of like capturing, as you go along through life, the off – you know, the offhand, the casual looks of the surfers because what you’re really seeing at that time, this time, is a whole culture being – that is being grown right in front of your very eyes.


BOYD: So you can go back and see what they looked like in the – Well, actually, you can go back to the ‘30s and so forth and watch them going all the way for the whole 20th century. That’s what the book is about, is basically it’s a book about who’s who in the 20th century of surfing. Starts with Duke Kahanamoku, goes to Kelly Slater, and everything in between.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take a call. Clayton is calling from El Cajon. Good morning, Clayton. Welcome to These Days.

CLAYTON (Caller, El Cajon): Good morning. How are you doing?

CAVANAUGH: Great. Thank you.

CLAYTON: My question is actually for Duke. You guys are describing the ‘60s as the golden age of surfing and my mom has also regaled me with tales of how the – how surfing was legendary back when she was growing up in Anaheim and Mission Bay and areas local here in south California. My question is actually do you think that surfing, as a profession or as a sport, has lost some of its glamour throughout the ages?

CAVANAUGH: Okay, thank you, Clayton. Duke, what do you think? Has surfing lost anything?

BOYD: Well, I kind of – I feel that way personally that it has. I don’t think on a – on the grand scale that that’s true because I think more people get to play in it, more people get to be a part of it, it’s grown to the fact where every – where it has a – it’s a big tent and everyone’s in it. But the core of surfing is still individual, where you get up in the morning and you go out and it’s not like you’re going down to meet your friends and you kind of get on a merry-go-round and dance around. You’re basically going out personally to go surfing, and that’s never lost. And that’s one of the nice things about it. Surfing itself is split into two parts. If you can make your living, like Corky Carroll says, by surfing, he says, well, what’s wrong with that? Well, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that.


BOYD: But in essence, he’s also a very, very hardcore surfer who doesn’t need to compete to basically have a good time and enjoy himself.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, you know, this California Surf Museum’s Annual “Legends Day” is – it only goes to one person a year, and I’m wondering how does that make you feel to be honored in that way, Duke?

BOYD: When you get honored by your contemporaries, your friends, it’s a lot different than any other kind of honor that you might get. So I hold this very dear because if your dear friends say you’re okay, you know, then in essence there may be something to it.

CAVANAUGH: That’s wonderful. And the “Legends of Surfing” book, besides that, what is your next big project?

BOYD: Well, my next big project? After I finish the – I’m working with a friend of mine named Eric Jordan, who is putting out a documentary called “For the Love of Surfing,” and it’s pretty much the same thing. It deals with an era of the ‘60s generally, a little bit of the ’50s and the ‘60s. And it documents what these people had to say during the 20th century in that one little golden era niche that you were talking about, and that’s what I’m basically working with – on him now, so I guess you can say that’s a project.

CAVANAUGH: I think so. Jim, can you tell us a little bit about the “Legends Day” event? We only have about 30 to 45 seconds but if you could tell us a little bit of what this event is going to be like?

KEMPTON: It is honoring one of the legends of surfing. Each year we choose one. We invite all of the other Legends of Surfing to attend, and the general public is also invited. We have hula dancers and ukulele players and a luau and it’s really part of a surf culture experience. And during that time, we honor whoever we’ve chosen. This year, it’s Duke Boyd. He’s with a very, very esteemed crew that will be there and who’ve been honored before.

CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you so much for coming in. Jim Kempton, president of the California Surf Museum. Thank you.

KEMPTON: Yeah, and you.

CAVANAUGH: And Duke Boyd, it was a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for coming in.

BOYD: Thank you for having us.

CAVANAUGH: Now, I wanted to let everyone know the California Surf Museum's Annual "Legends Day" event will take place this Sunday from one to four at the Oceanside Library. And if you need more information, you can always check out the These Days page on KPBS.org. And we also encourage you to post your comments at KPBS.org/TheseDays. Stay with us for the second hour of These Days, coming up in just a few minutes here on KPBS.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Waikiki Surf Club

Ian Lind continues to post photographs from his father's photographic collection. It is a great collection of historic images. Please go to John Lind's Waikiki Surf Club Collection

[ The following is from the LEGENDARY SURFERS Chapter "Post World War II," a section on The Waikiki Surf Club, 1947 ]

No two ways about it, World War II had interrupted the lives of most everyone in the "civilized" world and, in the case of surfing, put a lot of things on hold. Following the war, however, there was resurgent interest in and some changes in how surfing was organized in its traditional early 20th Century capitol, Waikiki.

By the end of 1946, the two main original Waikiki surf clubs had changed considerably. The native Hui Nalu had limited its activities mostly to outrigger canoe racing. The haole-influenced Outrigger Canoe Club had become more of an exclusive prestige-type establishment, "with a wide range of social and athletic interests." So, in 1947, the Waikiki Surf Club was formed for the same reasons that the other two had originally been put together. "Its purpose," wrote surfing historian Ben Finney, "was to promote surfing as well as other Hawaiian water sports. It provided board lockers and clothes changing facilities near the beach, for anyone who could pay the small initiation fee and monthly dues."

It was obvious that the Waikiki Surf Club filled a void, when, under the leadership of John Lind, it enrolled 600 members in three months -- some of whom were California surfers that were just starting to come over to the Islands. "We had [island local] members like George Downing, Wally Froiseth, Russ Takaki," recalled relocated California surfer Walter Hoffman. "The Outrigger was down the beach, at $200 per month -- a rich guy's club, very exclusive, you had to be voted in. Our club was for the regular guys who surfed, so it was a great place to meet everybody -- where all the transplant Californians hung out."

"The club was downstairs in the basement of this house... and consisted of some lockers, showers and a place to leave your board." A local guy named Taka was club attendant around the time Walt Hoffman and Ted Crane first came over in 1948.

The Waikiki Surf Club was followed by other newer clubs and the ongoing health of the older ones, but much of the post-war growth of surfing at Waikiki was, undoubtedly, due to the existence of the Waikiki Surf Club. The club did more than just provide a place for surfers to hang and keep their gear close to the beach. The club also initiated and sponsored several surfing and watermen events that stimulated public interest and fostered competition. Among these were: the Diamond Head Surfboard Championships, the Molokai-Oahu Outrigger Canoe Race, the Makapu Bodysurfing Championships, and what was to become famous as not only the first big wave surfing contest, but the first truly international surf contest: the International Surfing Championships at Makaha.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Preisendorfer on Tails

Rusty Preisendorfer's article "THE HISTORY AND FUNCTIONALITY OF TAILS," at Surfline.com, breaks down the lower third of surfboards from squashes to swallows. Lots of illustrations and comments.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Chris Hawk Honored

[ From Surfers Hall of Fame to Honor Chris Hawk | surfer-magazine, September 3, 2009 ]

In a special tribute to one of the southland’s legendary surfer-shapers, the Surfers’ Hall of Fame is set to induct Chris Hawk at 10 a.m. on Friday, September 18, 2009. The induction ceremony – which will include the traditional “hands and feet” in cement and presentation of the coveted Surfers’ Hall of Fame trophy – will take place in front of Huntington Surf & Sport (corner of PCH and Main).

According to Aaron Pai, Surfers’ Hall of Fame Founder, the unusual timing of the induction is due to Chris’ terminal illness (he is suffering from throat cancer). “Chris Hawk is a local surf legend of Huntington Beach,” said Pai. “Back in the day 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 surfing clan 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 famous 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 was recently diagnosed with throat Cancer and began his fight against this terrible disease. Now immersed in a debilitating chemotherapy treatment program, doctors have prohibited Chris from shaping or engaging in any type of physical activity.

In 1997 the Surfers’ Hall of Fame celebrated its first induction inside of specialty retailer Huntington Surf & Sport where several slabs remain. Four years later with the blessing of the City Council and a stunning bronze statue of sport’s spiritual leader Duke Kahanamoku serving as a backdrop, the ceremony moved outside to the corner of PCH and Main; less than 100 feet from the famed Huntington Beach Pier.

Chris Hawk’s Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony is open to the public, free-of-charge. Further information is available at http://hsssurf.com/hall.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kamehameha Day 1944

Ian Lind has unearthed some classic photographs taken on Waikiki Beach during WWII, that feature Duke Kahanamoku, George Downing, Tarzan Smith and some beach beauties displaying trophies from King Kamehameha Day, June 1944.

Ian wrote of the photographs that they were "among the old photos and clippings in my father’s collection... the [photographs were] taken by a U.S. Army Signal Corps photographer under the authority of the commanding general at Fort Shafter, and cleared by military censors for public release, according to a stamp on the back. This appears to place it during the period of martial law in Hawaii, which extended from December 7, 1941 through late 1944. Note the barbed wire fencing in the background, the only visible sign of the wartime conditions."

Please visit Ian's website for more details on the pictures, additional photographs and comments about them:




Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hawaii 1916 Footage

Hawaiian footage from 1916. A brief surfing sequence at very end:

YouTube - Hawaii: Paradise of the Pacific (1916)

The translations of the title cards (thanks to PaulW)

De Hawaianeilanden in Vogelvlucht:
Birds-eye view of the Hawaiian Islands.

Deze eilanden behooren tot de Sandwich eilanden. Het landschap is zeer bergachtig:
These islands belong to the Sandwich Isles. The landscape is very mountainous.

Een tochtje op de Hilo baan:
A ride on the Hilo track.

De inboorlingen visschen in de brandingen met behulp van werpnetten:
The natives fish in the surf with the help of nets.

Typen uit Hawaian:
Characters from Hawaii.

Met een snelheid van 35 K.M. per uur door de branding:
With a speed of 20 mph through the surf.

Thanks and appreciations to Damon Tucker for posting and Bob Russell for giving the heads-up on it. Please visit Damon's website "Pahoa" for comments, including some from old timers.

See also comments at YouTube: Paradise of the Pacific and check related videos.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Santa Barbara Surf Club

Santa Barbara Surf Club History

[ From: The Santa Barbara Surf Club - Santa Barbara Surfer.com ]

More than 100 miles above the sprawling acropolis of Los Angeles, with its ever north creeping fringe communities, the greater Santa Barbara area has a long and storied surf history. This is not surprising given the many picturesque right-hand point breaks that can be found along this stretch of land that starts just north of the city of Ventura. While at times the geography of this region makes it a surfer’s paradise, the fickle seasonal nature of its waves can make being a surfer in Santa Barbara as frustrating as it is rewarding. The average surfer in Santa Barbara regards the winter months as primo surf season and the spring and summer as the long down time of waiting and remembering the swells of yesterday.

It was within this realm that in the year 1960 the Santa Barbara County Surf Club (SBCSC) was originally formed by a group of locals that included, among others, Arlen Knight, Tim Knight, the Perko brothers, Bob and John (after whom the surf spot “Perkos” is named), Stu Fredricks, Rennie Yater, Ken Kesson, Jerry Shalhoob, John Bradbury, George Greenough, Don Bittleston, and Willy Norland. Joining this original group in the early 1960s were the second generation of club members that included, among others, Andy Neumann, Alan Hazard, Dan Hazard, Michael Cundith, and Shaun Claffey. Like a ten year old boy’s tree-house there were no girls in this original club, but this was not a sexist arrangement. Instead, it was indicative of the small number of female surfers in the area at the time. As an organization, the SBCSC has its roots in one of the most prestigious surf destinations in southern California: the Hollister Ranch.

In the early 1960s, before the magazines and the big surf companies arose and began to mold “surf culture”, the Santa Barbara County Surf Club had entered into an informal marriage of sorts with the Ranch; the club members, who numbered 60 in total, served as the security force for Clinton Hollister. In return for their service, SBCSC members gained the right to surf the many points along this remote Santa Barbara County coastal stretch. This arrangement grew out of what the founding members of the SBCSC called Clinton Hollister’s “open attitude” towards surfers and surfing, which first became apparent to them in the late 1950s.

Bob Perko’s first waves at the Ranch came in the summer of 1957, when one day his surf buddy Ken Kesson suggested a trek north to look for waves instead of their normal southern jaunt to the beaches of Ventura and Oxnard. After this first session, Ranch trips became more frequent for Perko and the other Santa Barbara locals he rode waves with. As surfing boomed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, stories of the gold to be found up beyond Gaviota spread. By 1962 Clinton Hollister had become increasingly concerned with the havoc and antics being carried out on his land by out of town surfers from places like LA and the vast beyond of Southern California. This is when the partnership between the SBCSC and Hollister occurred.

The arrangement was simple; the club would police itself and its members while at the Ranch, as well as monitor closely the visiting surfers that passed through. Older members of the SBCSC remember Arlen Knight as the enforcer back in these days, a role he took on, perhaps, due to the major part he played in the club’s arrangement with the Hollister. That is, it was Knight who first approached Clinton Hollister with the idea of starting a club to police Hollister Ranch land. When Hollister agreed to the idea, Arlen Knight, a founding member of the SBCSC, decided to assign his surf club with this new security detail. The deal elevated the SBCSC from being a small informal association of young surfers, to a larger most prestigious organization as to many local Santa Barbara surfers gaining club membership meant gaining access to the Ranch. By 1962, as the original SBCSC members completed the development of the rules and regulations for the Ranch, a decision to limit their membership to a maximum of 60 people was also made. Shortly thereafter as the club began to formally enforce the newly created surfing rules and regulations of the Hollister Ranch, there was already a waiting list of over 100 people hoping to join the SBCSC. Rules, regulations, and quotas aside, these early members of the SBCSC talk fondly about their days of surfing and policing the Ranch and enjoying its year round walls. Nothing lasts forever, however, and the union between SBCSC and the Ranch spanned a mere 10 years, 1962-1972. These were the salad days of the Santa Barbara County Surf Club.

During the 1960s another area that many club members were involved in was competition; however, the SBCSC itself did not have a surf team. Most of the big name surf clubs of this period differed from the SBCSC in this respect. The Malibu Surfing Association, for example, was formed in 1961 by a group of surfers that included its first president Butch Linden, a member of the Santa Barbara Surf Club since 1988. In 1963, the MSA hosted its first Classic at First Point Malibu, a contest that continues to be held each September. The Windansea Surf Club is said to have been formed in the mi- 1960s in order to allow its members to compete in the MSA Classic; among its roster of surfers at this time was local Santa Barbara goofy foot Mike Haskell. Many of the SBCSC’s contest oriented surfers attended events up and down the coast under the flag of the Hope Ranch Surf Club (HRSC), an organization with a storied, yet often forgotten, place within California surf history. In 1965, the HRSC’s team roster for the 3rd annual MSA Classic included Denny Aaberg, Bob Baron, John Bradbury, Lance Carson, Ross Cave, Shaun Claffey, Alan Hazard, Andy Neumann, Kevin Sears, and Rennie Yater. Linda Merrill, Kathy Beck, Terri Gillard, Sheri Stump, and Kathy Moutner represented the HRSC within the girl’s divisions of this contest, while listed as alternates for the men were Dan Hazard, Michael Cundith, Tim Donovan, Stanley Donovan, and Bob Cooper.

Things are never stagnant and when change occurs it often has long lasting effects. Such was the case when surfing underwent its “shortboard revolution” in the late 1960s. By the early 1970s, with the sale of the Hollister Ranch (1972), the movement of surfboards towards becoming smaller and smaller, and the trend of big name shapers of the 1960s being replaced by backyard /garage shapers, the Santa Barbara County Surf Club entered into a long hibernation period. A generation or so later, in 1988, a new club (re)emerged, the Santa Barbara Surf Club (SBSC), under the leadership of SBCSC members Andy Neumann, Gary Ross, Craig Angell, Shawn White, Dick Lovell, and Jeff Kruthers. Since then the SBSC has been a vibrant part of the local surf scene. Over the past 21 years, surfers Andy Neumann, Burt Davis, Debbie Trauntvein, Kenji Webb, Simone Reddingus, Dean Ehler, and Jason MacMurray have all served as president of the SBSC and helped guide it along. Trauntvein, the current president, is in her second reign at the top of the club, and has devoted more than 10 years to the position. Ironically, while those who helped recreate the SBSC in 1988 made the decision to drop the “County” from the club’s name, they at the same time, opted to use the logo of the original SBCSC for their decal, a design created by Dick Lovell in the early 1960s. This was done to make clear that while this was a new outfit, it was nonetheless very much rooted within its 60’s born predecessor.

Since 1988, the Santa Barbara Surf Club has been involved in a variety of causes and events in and out of the water. Its dry land endeavors have included such things as beach clean ups at local spots like Bates Beach, Ledbetter, and Rincon. Some years have also seen the club adopt portions of the 101 freeway. In the water, the club has also had an active history of service. From 1997 to 2006, for example, the SBSC was a constant participant in the Groundswell Society’s Rincon Cleanwater Classic, winning the event within the Surf Club Division in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, while raising considerable money towards clean water. The club also supports a variety of causes and organizations throughout California via its involvement in the various contests hosted by the many club’s that make up the Coalition of Surfing Clubs (CSC). Even though, one of the main reasons the club was (re)formed in the late 1980s was to allow local surfers to compete in these contests, it’s participation in these contests for many years was often spotty.

Since 2003 or so, however, the club has become more involved in these events, focusing on attending more events and selecting competitive, full rosters as much as possible. There are a lot of great surfers in the Santa Barbara area, a fact which both locals and non-locals have become increasingly aware of with the SBSC’s increased participation in CSC contests. The last six years or so have also seen the SBSC consistently moving up the CSC ladder, finishing in 11th place overall in 2003, 9th in 2004, 7th in 2005, 5th in 2006, and tied for 3rd with MSA in 2007. That same year, the club’s competition team continual growing presence was underscored when it won the team title at the MSA Classic. Not only did this break the SBSC’s streak of being runner-up for three straight years at MSA (2004, 2005, 2006), but it was also only the 3rd time in 20 years that MSA failed to win their own event. Alongside this increased focus on attending contests, the SBSC has remained committed to providing as many of its members as possible the opportunity to compete. In 2007, 92 different club members represented the SBSC in CSC associated contests.

Amusingly in 2007, while in the midst of completing its best overall year of competition in its history, a little piece of the Santa Barbara surfing personality reared its ugly head. Going into the final event of the CSC season, the club had had strong showings in all the events attended for the year (ending up in 6th place finish at DLSA, 3rd place at the Logjam in Santa Cruz, 4th place at the Memorial Day contest in Santa Cruz, 3rd at Call to the Wall at Malibu, and 1st place at the MSA Classic). This created a situation in which heading into the Windansea’s San Miguel Contest, the SBSC, DLSA, MSA, and the OLSC were all in the running for the overall 2007 team title. To win the title, the SBSC needed to merely attend the San Miguel Contest and do one better than their 2nd place team finish at the 2006; a task that seemed very doable on paper. However, each of the past years the SBSC had attended this contest getting surfers to attend had never been easy. The reason for this is simple; it’s not that it’s in Mexico and would require a long drive to attend, it is that it is held in November, a time when the northwest swells might start showing up. So, while the competing clubs gathered in Mexico on November 23-24, 2007, they did so without the SBSC in attendance. Instead, many club members joined their fellow Santa Barbara surfers in view of the waves, perched on their lookout posts up and down the coast awaiting the arrival of a northwest swell. Yea, it’s hard to make a Santa Barbara surfer leave home when the Aleutians start to show life.

• The club meets on the last Thursday of every month at Rusty’s Pizza (Carrillo and Bath location)
• Club dues are $30 a year for individual / $40 for families
• In 2008, the SBSC followed up its exceptional 2007 results with an even stronger year of competition within the Coalition of Surfing Clubs contest series, ending the year tied for second place in the overall standings with the Doheny Longboard Surfing Association and the Windansea Surf Club.
• For more information about the club or membership contact Deb Trauntvein (tdr1213@aol.com) or Andrew Buck (aslbuck@yahoo.com) – as these are personal email accounts, please make sure to include reference to the club in the subject heading of your email to make clear your inquiry isn’t thought to be spam).


To read more about Hollister Ranch history, please go to:

LEGENDARY SURFERS: Early Hollister Ranch History
by Laurie Lemmerman-Castaneda, October 19, 2007.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rick Griffin's Trinity

Rick Griffin – surfer, cartoonist, psychedelic poster artist, legend. Born near Palos Verdes in 1944, Griffin took-up surfing at age 14. During the 50s while he was in high school, Mad magazine heavily influenced his comic stylings– but he soon found his own voice, creating his own surf style that would become iconic. Through his undeniable talent and connections, Griffin was soon working for surf legend, Greg Noll, among others. After leaving high school he joined Surfer Magazine as a staff artist – creating the legendary California surf scene character Murphy, and working his way up to Art Director by the time he was of 20. But by 1964, Griffin decided it was time to move on and see what the world outside of So Cal’s tight-knit surfer scene had for him...


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Surfing in Santa Cruz

Thomas Hickenbottom has written "Surfing in Santa Cruz," a pictorial history of Santa Cruz surf history. Here are two articles about the book. Please visit the websites for full text, images and comments:


Hickenbottom's book a portable Santa Cruz surf museum

By Gary B. Niblock, 08/15/2009, Santa Cruz Sentinel

... With his new book, "Surfing in Santa Cruz," Hickenbottom presents a pictorial history of the sport from South County to Steamer Lane. Written by a native son, the book offers the reader an ultimate insider's look at the roots and evolution of modern day surfing in Santa Cruz.

"It was an era for only the boldest and most dedicated surfers," said Hickenbottom of Bonny Doon in the book's introduction. "This volume of photographs is a testament to those people from the earliest of times who helped define and transform surfing and beach life in Santa Cruz."

Hickenbottom's stories and pictures evolve from the slabs of redwood used by the three Hawaiian princes who christened Santa Cruz's waters to the heavy wood boards of the 1950s to the light "foamies" that emerged in the early 1960s.

Hickenbottom's sincere focus isn't the boards, however, but the people who rode them. He shares snapshots of some of the area's premiere surfing families, including the O'Neills and the Van Dykes. He digs up pictures of pro and local surfers waiting for their turn at contests and shows members of the Santa Cruz Surf Club gathering at the surf barn that used to sit at the corner of West Cliff and Bay Street.

One photo shows a group of longtime Westside surfers, including Al Fox, hanging out under a beach umbrella

"After Fox retired from the County of Santa Cruz, he rarely missed a day sunning at Cowell's," Hickenbottom wrote. "He was down there so much he would tell people, If you need me, I'll be at the office,' which meant under the beach umbrella."

Hickenbottom, 61, succeeds at capturing Santa Cruz's surf history in part because he lived it. He started surfing in 1959 as an 11-year-old "gremmie" [young surfer]. He progressed quickly, and as a member of the premier O'Neill Surf Team, was one of the first sponsored surfers. He competed up and down the coast, surfing against and often beating the best surfers of those days.

His meteoric surfing career was disrupted by the war in Vietnam, but Hickenbottom never lost his passion for surfing -- especially in Santa Cruz. That's why decades later, Hickenbottom delved into piecing together his latest book, taking his own knowledge and gleaning additional stories from some older members of the SCSC and information found at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.

"Surfing in Santa Cruz is a multifaceted experience," he wrote. "The community has some of the greatest surfers in the world as residents -- professional surfers who are constantly seeking out ultimate honors and personal triumphs. It is also a community that supports even the most physically compromised individual, who would like to experience the stoke of riding a wave."

"Surf Citizens" Column, 8/12/2009

... Right after Thomas Hickenbottom signed with Arcadia Publishing last fall to compile a pictorial history of surfing in Santa Cruz, the bottom fell out of his plans. Hickenbottom, a Santa Cruz native and professional surfer during the '60s, '70s and '80s, knew he'd have no problem gathering photographs from the 1950s and 1960s; his friends had plenty of those. But the collection he was relying on for 90 percent of the vintage photos from the 1940s and earlier --photos belonging to original Santa Cruz Surfing Club member Harry Mayo -- was suddenly off limits, tied up in litigation over rights to the images and the club name.

It may have been a blessing in disguise. Nerve-racking though it was, it forced Hickenbottom to reach out to other surfers, some of whom had moved away from Santa Cruz years before. Slowly the significance of his task dawned on him.

"I didn't realize what a cosmic thing I was doing for the whole surfing community, to be able to talk to all these people and sit in their living rooms and realize what incredible people were involved in this thing called Santa Cruz surfing," he says. "It's done for posterity, man! It's so bloody cool!"

Hickenbottom, a tanned, good-natured man with laughing hazel eyes and the upright, eternally youthful vibe of the soul surfer, speaks unselfconsciously about the Great Spirit and the role of service when he talks about the book. But it works on a material level, too, as a history of how boards themselves shaped the sport, the evolution from redwood plank to balsa to foam blank to shortboard fostering a constant expansion of maneuverability and athleticism. His book ends in 1968, after a decade of foam longboards had made possible the stylistic riding of the era. "In some ways it was more of an art form than an athletic endeavor," he says. Even the hotdogging--that quaint term--of the day was graceful.

Of course surfing didn't end in 1968. Hickenbottom himself went on to adapt to the shortboard revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, and he's as excited about surfing today, tow-ins and all, as he ever was. "It's going in all different directions!" he says. "Who knows where it could go?"

Ultimately, though, the book's significance, at least to its author, resides in the story of a developing Santa Cruz surfing community, one that embraces the physically limited along with the supremely gifted. "If someone were to ask me to write the history of Santa Cruz surfing, I'd tear out this page and say, 'Here it is, man!'" says Hickenbottom. He turns to a page with two plates, one of Dick Keating on a monster wave at Steamer Lane and one of Danny Cortazzo helping a young amputee catch a two-foot swell. "You can go into the consciousness, man, and this is where we need to be going. We need to be changing things for the better. And I think the Santa Cruz surfing community is like a metaphor for that."

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Costco Board

[ From: "Costco Sparks a Surfing Revolution?" By Steve Casimiro, The Adventure Life, August 5, 2009 ]

Every day at Doheny State Beach, there’s a blue flotilla—dozens upon dozens of surfers bobbing in the lineup just outside the Dana Point harbor at the southern end of Orange County, California, all on blue foam boards purchased for $100 at Costco. Most of the surfers are half the height of the eight-foot board, but there are tweens and teens and 50-somethings on them, too. The boards are soft and slightly squishy and perfect for beginners—this isn’t a lineup of Kelly Slaters—and when a wave rolls through it brings mayhem. There are collisions and flying boards. Every wave is a party wave, with five, six, seven people all on the same mushburger, all struggling to balance atop the foamy surge. On any given summer afternoon, there will be 60 or 70 surfers in the lineup, and from the right angle it looks like D-Day.

It’s a beautiful sight.

Surfing is exploding in popularity and at this local break it’s directly connected to the introduction of the hundred dollar soft board at Costco. Until the arrival of foam boards, which are much less likely to injure and far more durable, a grom had little choice but to buy a fiberglass board, which can easily set you back a grand. Even when the first foam learner boards started showing up, they still cost into the hundreds and were typically found at surf shops, which for the uninitiated can be as intimidating as a hard-core bike shop. As a result, the kids who surfed generally came from parents who surfed and they learned on hand-me-down boards. Everyone else, well, they had to plunk down a big cash outlay–risky, given the fickleness of children–or stick to cheap boogie boards and body surfing.

The blue bombers from Costco changed all that. Now, for a fraction of what you’d spend sending your kid to a surfing camp, you can have a board on call. Because they’re cheap and ultra-durable, you don’t have to worry about them getting lost, stolen, or damaged (my sister in law lost hers off the roof of her car on the freeway—it didn’t get a scratch). Even for adults, too, the Costco board is a great option for learning–though not a true longboard, it’s plenty long enough to get you in and on a wave. And if you discover surfing isn’t your thing, so what–it’s only a hundred bucks.

On our street, almost every kid has one. The girl next door started surfing with hers at age seven. Five people have already learned to surf on ours. It’s a safe bet this is happening wherever there are Costcos and waves—the big box store is regularly sold out of the boards. A flyby last weekend turned up just one, which had been returned to customer service; a worker urged me to grab it fast before it was snatched up. It’s a full fledged phenomenon.

A light day at Doheny.

And quite possibly a revolution. Surfing is one of the most difficult sports to learn. Just balancing on the board is a challenge, let alone paddling through the breakers, figuring out where to wait for waves, how to paddle into a wave, and when to stand up. And that’s all before you actually surf. By putting a board in every garage, Costco has dramatically lowered the first barrier to learning. Indeed, my 11-year-old took lessons every summer for three years, but it wasn’t until he had his own board and the repetition of time in the water that things clicked. Now he’s hooked. Everywhere, I look, I see the same thing happening.

Cotstco has been criticized for importing cheap high performance epoxy boards from China. Ever since Grubby Clark shut down Clark Foam, the main supplier to the raw blanks used to make fiberglass boards, the industry has been turbulent. Companies like Surftech mass produce boards, many overseas, and the lament that hand shaping is dying is common.

Ironically enough, my son and I surfed in the middle of the blue flotilla last Saturday and later that night I went to the world premier of the ragged but very cool documentary on surfboard shapers called Shaped. It’s an oral history from the shapers themselves—there’s no narration—and though there are the inevitable complaints about industrial board-building, legendary shape and surfer Mickey Muñoz seemed the most pragmatic and insightful of all. Look, he said, I design one great shape that works for a lot of people, it gets manufactured in mass by Surftech, and then I have the freedom to practice my art on boards for people who want that level of craftmanship. Everyone wins, he seemed to be saying.

Well, that’s a slightly different issue than with Costco learner boards. The spongy boards are really only a threat to other mass-produced sponge boards. Nobody seems too up in arms, unless they’re beefing about more people in the lineup. But the underlying sentiment is what’s to be celebrated: Surfing is…surfing is unlike any other sport. You come out of the water rinsed, clean, fresh, and connected. Getting people on boards, on the right boards, is good for them and great for surfing. How funny that Costco would be the one behind the celebration that is the chaos of Doheny on a summer afternoon.


For full text, plus images and large number of comments, please go to:

Costco Sparks a Surfing Revolution? | the adventure life

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mike Hynson

[ From: "Mike Hynson, Co-Star of 'The Endless Summer,' Resurfaces With Tales of the Brotherhood" By NICK SCHOU, Orange County Weekly, July 08, 2009 - See the original article for photos and comments ]

Whatever happened to The Endless Summer co-star Mike Hynson? A lot, much of it bad, starting when he got mixed up with the notorious Laguna Beach drug-smuggling ring known as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love

It’s 2 a.m. in New Delhi, halfway through a hot night in August 1967, and Mike Hynson is still awake and sweating in his hotel room. The pressure is on—it’s a feeling of impending doom that Hynson, a fearless surfer whose quest for the perfect wave had been captured in the 1966 cult classic The Endless Summer, has never encountered before, certainly never while simply working on a surfboard. But this is no normal surfboard-repair job.

Using a spoon he borrowed from the hotel restaurant, Hynson has carved a giant chunk of foam out of the bottom of one of the boards he’d delivered to India a few weeks earlier. He’s filled the hole with a watertight bag of hashish oil that he and a friend from Laguna Beach obtained in Kathmandu. He seals the compartment shut with carefully concealed tape and resin. But time is conspiring against Hynson. He still has two more boards to go before dawn, when he has to catch a return flight to California. The trio of hash-laden boards he’s busy preparing are supposed to arrive on a cargo flight a few days after him.

His brown wig and fake mustache—which he wore for the photograph that adorns his phony passport—await his attention. He must not forget to wear them to the airport. As Hynson hunches over his hollowed-out board, a thought keeps parading through his brain, over and over like a mantra, until he feels as if every nerve in his body is about to snap.

“Uh-oh,” says the voice in Hynson’s ?head. “I’m really doing this. This is really fucking real.”

* * *

Stepping inside Hynson’s garage at his house in Encinitas is like entering a strange world where Southern California surfing history, 1960s counterculture and Hynson’s renegade sense of humor all compete for surface space. There’s the red pirate flag hanging over the door with the words “Prepare to be Boarded” splashed above a skull and crossbones. Faded portraits of Hindu swamis hang above a tray of expired incense, next to a blown-up photograph of a 24-year-old Hynson with a bunch of his friends—Robert August, Bruce Brown, Hobie Alter, Corky Carroll and Phil Edwards—posing in front of a Winnebago at San Onofre State Beach with a trio of then-wives and -girlfriends.

The photo captures Hynson on the cusp of greatness, about to embark on a nationwide tour to promote the film he’d just starred in, Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer. On an opposite wall is a black-and-white Warner Brothers production still from the acid-drenched 1972 Jimi Hendrix “concert” film Rainbow Bridge, in which Hynson surfs waves in Maui and cracks open a surfboard to reveal a bag of smuggled hashish. Other photos of Hynson surfing in the early 1970s adorn the walls: molten energy captured in freeze frame, gold locks flowing in the wind, a pair of intensely focused eyes, arms spread out in a yoga-style stretch.

What’s missing from this Technicolor trip down memory lane are the past 20 or so years of his life. It’s a stretch of time Hynson doesn’t talk about much, partly because he’s not proud of it, but mostly because he doesn’t remember it well, even less so than the heady days of the late-1960s, when he was dropping acid nearly every day with his friends in the Laguna Beach-based band of smugglers known as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love (see “Lords of Acid,” July 8, 2005). Those were strange times indeed, but a lot of fun compared to what came next. In the early 1980s, life went downhill for Hynson when John Gale, one of the Brotherhood’s best surfers and Laguna Beach’s most legendary outlaws, died in a mysterious car crash, thus ruining Hynson emotionally and financially.

Gale was Hynson’s business partner in Rainbow Surfboards, which the two founded in Laguna Beach in 1969, as well as his best friend. Hynson’s drug-addled, rebellious lifestyle had already led to a divorce from wife Melinda Merryweather, a Ford Agency model, actress and art designer, but Gale’s death seemed to push him over the edge from reckless to beyond help. He descended into a depression and drug addiction that lasted decades, ruining his surfing career and alienating him from everyone but his closest friends until only a few years ago.

Now 67, Hynson is muscular and trim from long days spent shaping boards for mostly Japanese customers. He still has a full head of hair, which is pulled back over his scalp into a short Native American-style braid. He’s wearing a black T-shirt adorned with a red Chinese dragon, dusty black jeans and rugged work boots. His face is full of color and breaks easily into a self-deprecating grin. Gone are the gaunt physique and haggard expression on display in photographs taken of him just a decade ago, when People profiled him in an embarrassing article titled “The Endless Bummer.” (The story noted that just a few weeks before Endless Summer 2 was released, Hynson was serving jail time for drug possession.)

It was during one of Hynson’s numerous jail stints, at some point in the 1980s—he’s not sure what year or why he was in jail—that somebody suggested he use his free time to write, a suggestion that, two decades later, led to Transcendental Meditations of a Surf Rebel, an autobiography Hynson co-wrote with Donna Klaasen that was released this month by the Dana Point-based Endless Dreams Publishing. Among other things, the book divulges that Hynson, who has never spoken publicly about the Brotherhood, wasn’t just pals with them, but actually instructed them in the art of using surfboards to smuggle drugs.

“The last time I’d been in jail, I’d started reading for the first time in my life,” Hynson recalls of his autobiographical efforts. “And on this stretch, I just got obsessed with writing.” By the mid-1990s, Hynson had cranked out hundreds of pages of handwritten memoirs, all of it scrawled in pencil on jailhouse paper, which he eventually shared with a few friends at the surf shop down the street from where he now lives, a half-mile from the beach in Encinitas. “A couple of people looked at it and said, ‘Michael, I know you can understand this, but I look at it and I can’t understand a word,’” he says.

Hynson remembers glancing down at the first draft of his autobiography. For the first time, he realized that, after the first few pages, his magnum opus consisted of nothing but incomprehensible chicken-scratch scrawl, less a series of words and punctuation marks than a never-ending pattern of zigzag lines, like heart-monitor readings. “It was just so dysfunctional,” he says, chuckling.

* * *

Unlike the blurry events of the past few decades, the highlights of Hynson’s early life are still very vivid in his mind. Michael Lear Hynson was born in the Northern California coastal town of Crescent City in 1942, a Navy brat whose father survived kamikaze attacks as a radioman in World War II. Mike grew up in San Diego and Hawaii, never staying in one place long enough to make friends. His thrill-seeking lifestyle began while living with his mother at a trailer park when he was just 2 years old.

One morning, he crawled out the door while his mother wasn’t looking and discovered that the trailer next door had moved. He grabbed a 250-volt electrical plug that was lying on the ground and stuck it in his mouth. According to Hynson, the shock split his tongue and made it hard for him to learn how to speak. “I developed my own unique way of talking, and sometimes, I mumble and stumble,” he says. “Then, when I was 5, I was climbing these stairs at Imperial Beach, and this friend of mine had a hammer in his hand. My mother said something behind us, and he turned, and the claw of the hammer went right into the temple of my head.”

The next thing Hynson knew, he was being flown by helicopter to San Diego’s nearby naval base. He remembers floating above himself, looking down at his body surrounded by doctors, all of whom left the room. “I remember being really comfortable and just tripping, you know,” he says, “and then my mother turned around to leave the room, and I screamed into my body, ‘Where are you going?’ And my mother goes, ‘He’s alive!’ and the doctors came back in, and they got me back.” Hynson says he likes to joke that the hammer incident explains why he often seems to lose his train of thought nowadays. “Everybody who knows me knows that I go off on tangents,” he says. “But I’m just making an excuse for myself.”

Hynson spent most of his elementary-school years in Honolulu, where, he says, he never picked up a surfboard. It wasn’t until he was in junior-high school in San Diego that he took up surfing with some older kids who surfed at Pacific Beach, called themselves the Sultans and wore matching purple-nylon jackets. After watching the older kids a few times, he borrowed a board. Hynson recalls standing up on his first wave, not realizing how fast he was moving until he looked at the nearby pier and saw wooden posts rushing by in a blur. “I’ll never forget it,” he says. “It was so far out. I couldn’t sleep, and I just got into it, borrowing boards and stealing them and everything.”

Stealing surfboards is how Hynson met the man who would give him his first big break in the world of surfboard shaping, Hobie Alter, an early surf pioneer and inventor of the Hobie Cat, which is now the world’s top-selling small catamaran. “I first met Mike when he stole some of my boards,” Alter says. “The cops wanted to press charges, but Linda Benson, one of the finest surfer gals, called me and said Mike wasn’t that bad.” Alter agreed to drop the charges if Hynson would return the boards and later gave him a job as a shaper.

Hynson’s first board was an 11-foot plank of balsa wood that he spotted while collecting weeds in the front yard of a house in Mission Beach. The board’s owner told him he could have the board if he wanted it, so Hynson and a friend lugged it to the friend’s garage, where Hynson began whittling away. “I had no idea what I was doing, and his parents were getting angry because of all this dust and resin and mess, but it turned out to be a 7-foot-11-inch board. It was a hot little board, and everyone loved it who rode it.”

Hynson suddenly found his board-shaping skills very much in demand. He became a top shaper for Gordon and Smith Surfboards in San Diego, where he designed and produced his trademark “RedFin” boards. He also began hanging out with all the best surfers in Southern California, including Corky Carroll, Phil Edwards, Nat Young and Robert August. “As a surfer, Mike was very good,” recalls Carroll, now TheOrange County Register’s surfing columnist. “He was not a guy that you had to worry about beating you in a contest, but he knew how to ride a wave. He also had a kind of charisma about him that seemed to attract ‘followers,’ so to speak.”

One person who began following Hynson’s surf career was Bruce Brown, a film director who, by the early 1960s, was filming all the big surf contests in Southern California and Hawaii. According to Hynson, Brown was getting tired of the fact that all the surf movies being made showed the same group of surfers on the same group of waves. “There was no story to any of these movies,” Hynson says. Brown came up with the concept of taking two surfers—one blond and right-footed (Hynson) and one dark-haired goofy-footer—August fit the part—and following them around the world, from California to Europe and Africa, in search of the perfect wave.

The details of their epic quest, which culminates with Hynson surfing a beautiful right-breaking wave at Cape St. Francis in South Africa, are familiar to anyone who has seen The Endless Summer, which remains iconic more than 40 years later. The film not only exposed the sport to a nationwide audience, helping export the industry beyond California and Hawaii, but it also helped shift the sport itself from a handful of well-known beaches to a constant quest for pristine waves in exotic locales. Hynson recalls the trip as one of the most fun adventures in his life, although part of the sense of adventure was the fact that he smuggled an ounce of pot with him as he flew around the world.

“I was young, stupid and loaded,” Hynson says. “I smoked pot everywhere. I had a roll of bennies, which I took with me also, so when we had to drive somewhere, guess who stayed up all night?”

Before the movie was released theatrically in 1966, Hynson accompanied Brown and August, as well as several other surf legends, including Carroll, on a nationwide road trip to promote the film. “We’d go into towns, and every time we’d stop for gas, Corky and I would jump out and go skateboarding,” Hynson says. “We really caused a scene because skateboarding hadn’t reached the inner part of the States yet.” As the trip wore on, the audiences were growing larger, and before Hynson realized it, the movie had become a hit. (At latest count, The Endless Summer has grossed $30 million.) Hynson claims that Brown had promised him and August that if the movie did well, everyone would share in the good fortune.

“It wasn’t until I grabbed Robert and went to LA and talked to a lawyer that I realized this guy was fucking me left and right,” Hynson says. In fact, Hynson had only become suspicious after his then-girlfriend Merryweather, whom he had just met at San Diego’s Windansea beach, asked him about his allowing Brown to use his likeness on film. “He’d never signed a release,” says Merryweather, now a civic activist in La Jolla. Merryweather’s father, Hubert, was the president of Arizona’s state senate; Barry Goldwater was her godfather. “I told Mike my father knew a great lawyer up in Hollywood, and let’s go up and see him.”

Hynson brought August with him to see the attorney, who insisted they each deserved a third of the profit from The Endless Summer. Hynson claims Brown refused to do that, instead offering each surfer $5,000, a new car and help getting set up in business. While August accepted the deal, Hynson says, he refused. (Neither Brown nor August responded to written requests for comment for this story, but Alter says Brown gave Hynson the gift of fame he still enjoys. “Nobody knew who Mike was back then,” he says. “Bruce took all the risk, and I’ve never met anybody more forthright and honest.”) The dispute ended Hynson’s friendships with Brown and, eventually, August. Enraged by what he felt was Brown’s betrayal, Hynson dropped out for a while, leaving California with Merryweather to spend half a year surfing big waves on Oahu’s North Shore.

One of the surfers Hynson got to know in Hawaii was Chuck Mundell, a high-school dropout from Huntington Beach. Mundell admired Hynson and wanted him to meet a good friend of his named John Griggs, who was living with a bunch of friends in a stone building in Orange County’s Modjeska Canyon. Griggs and his friends, most of whom were former boozers, brawlers and heroin addicts from Anaheim, had begun experimenting with a new drug that Griggs had stolen at gunpoint from a Hollywood film producer: lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Until October 1966, acid was legal in California, and Griggs and his group, who called themselves the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, believed that just as it had cured them of their addictions and violent behavior, it could also transform American society into a glorious utopia. They were heavily influenced by Harvard professor Timothy Leary, he of the famous exhortation “Turn on, tune in, drop out”—and who would later describe Griggs as the “holiest person who has ever lived in this country.”

Before Griggs invited Leary to join his group, which in early 1967 moved south to Laguna Canyon, to a neighborhood Griggs would christen “Dodge City” because of the constant skirmishes with the local forces of law and order, Hynson was Griggs’ most famous disciple. “Griggs had gold flashing out of his eyes and tongue, these words; he was just a magical little guy,” Hynson says. Accompanied by Merryweather, Hynson dropped his first acid with Griggs and several other Brotherhood members at Black’s Beach near La Jolla.

The experience brought him back to the hospital room where he’d nearly died as a child. It took Hynson a few trips to get beyond that near-death experience, but when that happened, he felt reborn with a new sense of spiritual purpose. “Those guys turned me on,” he says. “Things were happening. I remember Johnny and I walking down Haight-Ashbury [in San Francisco], and he got some acid from somebody, and the whole street was loaded with people doing their own hippie thing. It was really going on.”

Griggs had a plan: open a psychedelic spiritual and cultural center in Laguna Beach that would turn the town into a Southern California version of Haight-Ashbury. To finance the construction of Mystic Arts World, the store that would serve as that center, Griggs relied on cash from the Brotherhood’s burgeoning marijuana-smuggling operation.

“One day, I walked into this warehouse with Johnny and saw 50 tons of pot,” Hynson says. “I wasn’t supposed to see it, but I was there. I remember thinking, ‘It’s not going to get any better than this, and it’s not going to get any worse.’”

But Hynson had another idea for how Griggs could raise money: Why not use surfboards to smuggle hash from the Middle East or India? After all, nobody knew anything about surfing in India, so customs wouldn’t know if, for example, a surfboard weighed 20 or 30 pounds more than it should. Hynson suggested the idea to Griggs’ friend Dave Hall, who promptly borrowed a board and set off for Nepal, returning a few weeks later with the board—and the best hash anyone in Laguna Beach had ever smoked.

On his next trip, Hall invited Hynson to come along, which is how Hynson found himself struggling to fill three surfboards with hash oil late one night in New Delhi. The trip was a success, and the cash raised helped make Griggs’ dream a reality. “I wasn’t going to sell it or anything,” Hynson says. “I just gave it to those guys, and it bankrolled Mystic Arts. It was an honor, you know.”

* * *

During the next several years, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love established itself as both America’s top hashish-smuggling ring—with up to a dozen hash-stuffed Volkswagen buses and Land Rovers being shipped back from Afghanistan at any given moment—and the country’s top LSD-distribution ring. Leary moved to Laguna Beach and later accompanied Griggs to a mountain commune in Idyllwild, where Griggs died of an overdose of crystallized psilocybin in August 1969. Hynson stayed away from Dodge City as much as possible because Leary and the Brotherhood attracted too much heat.

He let his guard down once, however, when he and Merryweather sped through Laguna Canyon smoking a joint. A cop pulled them over, smelled the weed and arrested them both. At the station, the officer rifled through Merryweather’s belongings. “In my purse, I had a little Buddha, a prayer book and beads, some patchouli oil and incense, and a Murine bottle full of LSD,” Merryweather recalls. “The cop ingested it through his fingers and never got around to booking us.” In the morning, another officer arrived at the station, slack-jawed at the sight of his colleague, who reeked of patchouli, sitting with glazed eyes in front of a Buddha. “They let us the hell out of there right away,” Hynson says.

Not surprisingly, much of the late 1960s is a blur to Hynson. “It’s a fog,” he says. “There are a few years when I know I was there, but I don’t know what happened.” Although Griggs’ untimely death saddened Hynson, he’d already become best friends with a talented young surfer who also happened to be Dodge City’s biggest drug dealer, John Gale. In 1969, the two opened their own company, Rainbow Surfboards. Theirs were among the first truly shredding shortboards to hit the waves in Southern California and Hawaii. “Mike was one of the surfboard shapers in the 1960s who could make boards that worked,” recalls Carroll. “There were better craftsmen around, guys who could make ‘perfect boards,’ but Mike had the gift to make ones that just rode great.’”

Rainbow Surfboards got an unexpected publicity boost from Jimi Hendrix and Chuck Wein, a member of Andy Warhol’s so-called Factory whom Merryweather had befriended while working as a model in New York. In 1972, while Hynson and Merryweather were living in Maui—where most of the Brotherhood had relocated after Laguna Beach became too hot—Merryweather suggested to Wein that he direct a Jimi Hendrix concert movie in Maui and even introduced him to Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jefferey.

“Chuck wanted to make a movie that was going to have surfing, healers, vegetarians, New Age people, even a space woman,” Merryweather says. “Jimi was going to play the music because he was at the top of his game, and Michael was going to surf because he was at the top of his game.” The result, 1972’s Rainbow Bridge, was billed as a Hendrix concert film because the concert Hendrix played in Maui provides the ending of the movie, much of which actually features surfing by Hynson and his friends, goofy-foot hotshot Dave Nuuhiwa and Leslie Potts. “Gale refused to be in the movie, because he didn’t want to have his face on camera,” Hynson recalls.

The film’s most notorious scene features Hynson and Potts ripping open a Rainbow Surfboard to reveal a stash of hash, a stunt that takes place under a Richard Nixon poster that reads, “Would You Buy a Used Car From This Man?” When the film opened in Laguna Beach, Hynson gave Gale all the tickets as a birthday present. Half of the audience was rumored to be narcs. “The room smoked up so much you couldn’t see the stage,” Hynson says. “We had all these Rainbow Surfboards up on the stage, and when the movie showed the board being opened up, it got the police crazy. They were constantly on our ass. Anybody who had a Rainbow Surfboard got pulled over.”

* * *

A few months after Rainbow Bridge came out, a multi-agency task force arrested dozens of members of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in California, Oregon and Maui, including Gale, who spent the next several months in prison. “He wasn’t in for long,” Hynson says. “He was like a rabbit.” But thanks in part to the Brotherhood’s legendary secrecy, the police never knew Hynson’s role in the group. Once Gale got out of prison, the two continued to sell surfboards and market the Rainbow brand by opening a Rainbow Juice bar in La Jolla with help from Merryweather. But the business folded after just a few years. “We didn’t shortchange anything,” Merryweather says. “We got an accounting firm and figured out we were paying people 25 cents to eat the avocado sandwiches.”

Meanwhile, Gale had become the biggest cocaine broker in California. Hynson says he didn’t know the full extent of Gale’s business dealings, but he does recall visiting his friend’s house one time when Gale suddenly remembered that a truck full of Colombian marijuana was on its way from Florida. He also recalls that whenever he rode in Gale’s car, someone always seemed to be following them. “Not for long, though,” Hynson says. “Gale didn’t stick around long enough for anyone to chase him.”

On June 2, 1982, Gale perished when the car he was driving, Hynson’s Mercedes, went off the road in Dana Point. Hynson remains convinced someone—either the cops or rival criminals—was chasing his friend. The tragedy ended Rainbow Surfboards (it’s recently been reincarnated under new ownership) and left Hynson financially strapped. “If you ever had a business project and you’re wondering whatever happened to it, it’s probably because the other guy is dead,” Hynson jokes.

Gale’s death devastated Hynson, says Merryweather. “I wasn’t with him at the time, but people told me they’d never seen Michael take anything so bad. He just really went sideways.”

Hynson spent the next two decades broke, strung out on coke and crystal methamphetamine, bouncing between jail and sleeping in alleys and garages in San Diego. “I got tripped up on my probation, you see,” he says, his voice trailing off as it often does when he attempts to make sense out of what happened to his life. “You know, it just snowballed. I hit rock-bottom, and then stayed there for a while.”

Hynson isn’t exactly sure how he finally managed to pull himself out of the downward spiral, although he credits ex-wife Merryweather and current girlfriend Carol Klaasen with being “angels” in his life. “It’s just been a gradual process of coming back to reality, and I haven’t stopped since,” he says. “One day, I realized I had a driver’s license with my own address and a telephone number. I even had a bank account. That’s when I realized I was back in society again.”

Thanks to the booming market for American-designed surfboards in Japan, Hynson is doing brisk business there. “There’s really no money in surfboards,” he says. “But thank God for the Japanese.” Meanwhile, Hynson hopes to sell the first 1,000 signed copies of his book for $350 each, which would raise enough cash to print many thousands of additional copies. Eventually, he wants to help publish art books by local artists such as Lance Jost and Bill Ogden, whom he’s known since his Laguna Beach days. “The more books we sell, the more the price goes down,” he says. “I don’t have any money right now, but I’m taking every cent I have, and we are just going to snowball this thing. If I can just get some juice, I’m going to have some fun.”


Nick Schou’s book Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World, is scheduled for release in March 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press.