mike hynson at his southern california home

Endless Summer co-star Mike Hynson was born in Crescent City, California in 1942. His father was career navy, so the family bounced between Hawaii and San Diego for the first dozen or so years of Michael’s life. By the mid-‘50s, the family had settled in Pacific Beach, a neighborhood of San Diego. There, Hynson started surfing and quickly became one of area’s hottest surfers. In late 1961, he moved to Hawaii to surf the North Shore of Oahu, and was one of the first surfers to take on Pipeline.
By 1959, Michael had become a professional surfboard shaper, shaping for such notable brands as Hobie and Gordon and Smith. While working for Gordon and Smith, he and his friend Herbie Fletcher pioneered the down rail concept, and Michael personally designed and created the HY-1 and HY-2 models. But perhaps his most famous design was the Hynson Redfin Model.
Never that enthralled by surf competitions, Michael still had some success as a contest surfer in the ‘60s. Often riding for the Windansea Surf Club – a club he helped establish in 1963 - he placed fourth in the ‘63 Malibu Invitational and second in the ’65 Tom Morey Invitational. Michael was also selected three times – in 1965, 1966 and 1967 - to surf in the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational.

Mike Bruce and Robert with South African locals during filmingIn 1964, with the U.S. fully immersed in the Vietnam War, a 16 mm version of a new surf movie called The Endless Summer debuted, in – of all places – Wichita, Kansas. The movie sold out every night for two solid weeks. It wasn’t until June 15, 1966 that The Endless Summer was released into worldwide distribution. It was 26 year-old Bruce Brown’s sixth film. Hynson was just 21.

Mike going hard off the bottom at Gunner's Point, Pacific Beach, 1960.
So how did the young filmmaker choose Mike Hynson to co-star in The Endless Summer?  Brown had a long list of talented surfers from which to choose, but Michael had worked with Bruce on his 1961 movie, Surfing Hollow Days and the two had talked about The Endless Summer concept for a long time. Michael was living in La Jolla and shaping for Hobie at the time, and Hobie and Bruce were good friends. It probably didn’t hurt that Michael’s good looks epitomized the ‘60s California surf scene, with his slicked back blonde hair and his very composed, athletic surfing style. The draft board had been threatening to ship Michael off to war, making the decision of whether to take Brown’s offer to travel the world surfing or go to Vietnam an easy one. Borrowing $1,400 from his boss Hobie Alter for airfare, Michael embarked on the surfing safari of a lifetime.
Mike, Bruce Brown and Robert August during filming
Donna Klassen Jost, the author of Hynson’s book, Transcendental Memories of a Surf Rebel, probably best describes his colorful life as a youngster and through the ‘70s in the following two paragraphs:
“On the edge…that’s the way Hynson lived his life, from his formative years in the ‘40s and ‘50s as a Navy brat to his timing and innovation throughout the ‘60s that kept him at the forefront of the surfing industry.  He was a founding member of the Windansea Surf Club, planted the seed with Tom Morey for the Boogie Board at the first professional surf contest, revolutionized surfing forever with his faster and more maneuverable downrail board, and transformed his idea of a surf demo into Rainbow Bridge, a cult film in which he had the genius to recruit Jimi Hendrix to play a concert at the base of Haleakala just two months before his death.
All the while, Hynson was heavily involved with the infamous Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a religious and idealistic band of hippies who emerged from Laguna Canyon as multi-million dollar international drug smugglers.  Hynson respectfully details the group’s rise and fall, including his years with Timothy Leary and Hynson fearing for his life on his first smuggling trip to Katmandu in 1967, where he hid hash oil inside hollowed out surfboards.”
Mike with Nat Young and "Buddha", 2015

I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Hynson and his fiancé Carol in May of this year. They came up to meet with me and see Last Wave. While having lunch and spending the afternoon at the beach, Michael told me a little about his storied life. The title of his book alone defines who Hynson is…a true soul surfer with some hippie mixed in, one who lives his life on his terms. No doubt, Michael Hynson was a key figure in defining the surf lifestyle we all enjoy today. Thank you, Michael!

Mike and the gang promoting the film 1964

Note: My thanks to Michael Hynson and Donna Klaasen Jost for the photos and information that went into preparing this short bio.

Until next time,