Corky Carroll

My pal designed best boards

For those of you who don't know who Mike Hynson is, let me refresh your memory.

Mike was one of the two guys, along with Robert August, who starred in Bruce Brown's epic surfing movie the "Endless Summer." He was also a very gifted surfboard shaper and designer back in the 1960's.

Earlier in the summer I got an email from Donna Klaasen, who is a long-time friend, telling me that she had been working with Mike putting together a new book about Mike's crazy life. It is being released right now.

I first met Mike in 1964 when Endless Summer was finished and ready to be shown. Bruce Brown and Hobie Alter, of Hobie Surfboards, put together a promotional tour along the East Coast to premiere the film in 11 cities. They got a mobile home and stuffed nine of us in it for the trip from Dana Point to New York City, down the coast to Miami Beach, and back.

The crew included Hobie, Bruce, Phil Edwards, Mike, Joey Cabell and myself. I was 15 at the time.

Mike and I hung out a lot on that trip and got to be pals. Over the next couple of years I didn't see him much as he lived in San Diego and went to work shaping boards for Gordon and Smith.

In late 1966 I was working hard trying to come up with a workable design for a new shortboard. I had been trying a number of different shapes and was close to having it ready. I was on my way to surf Windansea in La Jolla one day and stopped by Mike's house to say hello. He had a board lying in his backyard that looked pretty cool and I asked him if I could borrow it.

I liked it a lot and rode it for a couple of weeks. The nose outline was the part that I liked the best and when I was finishing the design for the new shortboard I tried to make the nose very similar.

In those days boards were not as technically sophisticated as today. They all were pretty similar in many ways.

I used parts of boards that I liked for the rails, bottom, tail and overall outline. The hard part was making it all work together in a shape that was shorter than what we had been riding. The result was the "Mini-Model." That was the first shortboard released into the surfing market.

When I had it done I went by Mike's house, showed it to him, and thanked him for the inspiration for the nose outline. I also did my best to recruit him to come to work for Hobie, who I worked with. I was always trying to get the best talent on board in those days - surfers as well as craftsmen.

Mike was interested but for some reason didn't want to talk to Hobie himself. So I went to Hobie and convinced him to hire Mike as part of our shaping team. I really had no idea there was any history between the two of them other than that Mike had ridden a Hobie board in the Endless Summer. I learned all the rest in Mike's new book.

For a couple of years Mike worked for Hobie, then he moved on to other things. I had many great boards shaped by him and we were always pals. I pretty much lost contact with him in the early 1970's and had no idea what he was up to or where he went until I read the book.

"Mike Hynson, Transcendental Surf Rebel." That sums up the story. Mike was more of an outlaw than I suspected. I always knew that he and I lived in different worlds, but until now did not know just how different they were.

The book is a great read and tells the story of a guy who definitely lived under the radar - from stealing boards from Hobie way before I met him to international drug smuggling. Mike had adventures that took way more nerve than I ever had.

He was a surf criminal, really.

The only part of the book that I take exception to is that he seems to think that my entire design for the original "Mini-Model" was copied from him and that I got him the job with Hobie out of guilt. NOT TRUE. I got him the job with Hobie because I wanted the best guys on our team. And as a surfer/shaper/designer he was one of the best guys.

Other than that I liked the book a lot.