An Ode to Derek Hynd

Cheers to the most interesting surfer in the world

| posted on April 29, 2014

That crazy finless shit in the video above is being done by a man nearing 60 years old.

Derek Hynd surfs better than you with one working eye (his left), no fins (at all), and at 57 years old (as of today). Everything about his surfing is interesting. Finless, yes, but have you seen the tails of these boards he’s sliding around on? Words…there are none. He began his finless visionquest long past the age that most mortal surfers make a grudging effort to ease their surfing experience by climbing onto bigger boards and lowering their expectations. Certainly not by learning new tricks.

I remember first seeing Hynd surf in Litmus, Andrew Kidman’s perfectly cool 1996 surf movie featuring Tom Curren, Wayne Lynch, and Joel Fitzgerald surfing greatly and relatively normally. Then there was Hynd’s segment in which he also surfed greatly but also very abnormally. He rode unnecessarily huge boards at perfect J-Bay, sometimes while wearing gloves and while doing bizarre little dances with his hands. He also performed big, knee-busting laybacks into the tube, then just sort of continued laying back in the barrel for a couple hundred yards or so. You’d think psychedelics were involved, but Hynd has always been famously anti-drug.

Hynd is interesting because he is interesting. Circular reasoning? Not in a surf world that too often lacks mind-bending characters like Derek Hynd. Brilliant writer, critic, surfer of very strange surfboards. There isn’t a single surfer on the World Tour today who could possibly retrace Hynd’s evolution from touring pro to slightly hermetic surfing monk.

This week, in a nod to Hynd’s birthday, I’m going to pull the fins off my board and ride a few waves, joining the Free Friction Society. In honor of you, Mr. Hynd.

Here’s a list of interesting things about Hynd:
-He was born in a place called Castlecrag.
-He lost his right eye in a surf contest in 1980 when his board hit him in the face.
-He somehow finished the next year ranked #7 in the world.
-He was married in 1989, on Halloween.
-He was Occy’s surf coach for a time (Easiest job in the world).
-He started Rip Curl’s “The Search” program, indirectly creating the best surf movie series of the 1990s.
-He has not gone left since the early ’80s (might not be true)

  • Jimmy the Saint

    I love the video, and I too first saw Hynd in Litmus, where I thought he was the standout surfer in a video full of legends. I have a bonzer 5, if I take out the centre fin would that kinda go as a finless board?

    • RB

      No, it would not. It would be fun but nothing near a finless board.

    • ischinator

      Sort of, I do the same on small days – heaps of fun!

  • reefhead

    inspiring craft sliding …thanks for the post!

  • mb

    Derek Hynd. He has always marched to the beat of a different drum. I love that scene of him in Litmus riding that orange single fin pin tail…

  • Bulaman

    Derek is not the most interesting surfer in the world, rather the Rudest surfer in the world is a better fit.

  • sonny p

    jack mc coys footage from pumping jbay is some of the sickest surfing ever. unlike so many other “surf stars” you have no idea what he will do next. DH is the most interesting surfer today.

  • whamo

    That finless flight on the face he does at J-Bay looks so wild and free. I’ve never seen anyone else surf like that.

  • guest

    Couldn’t you find a worse song?

  • Jay Donoghue

    Excellent surfing, but the soundtrack was the most annoying crap I’ve heard since nails on a blackboard.

    • PicoPiqueno

      Go listen to Jack Johnson then, ya fruit booter.

  • Wobbly

    I met Hynd in the late ’80s, when I was a budding surf writer in Santa Cruz. He was very friendly and supportive. I ran into him a few other times, at other contests, and he always remembered me, said hello, and was very gracious. A true gentleman of the sport.

  • StayxsieJohnson

    Whats with the awful noise on the soundtrack? OMG….you must have wrote it…..nobody would put something that bad to a video.

  • noemah

    Please tell who the music is from I want that album. The best drone I’ve heard in ages. Totally meets the goul style of the slouching, crouching wave Jedi

  • Roy Spanier

    Planet of the Apes soundtrack to surfing….

  • Marky Mark

    Really, gonna complain about the music? That sick surfing needed some strange sounds. Music youve never heard to match moves youve never seen. Spot on.

  • Sean Davey

    I’ve traveled extensively with DH over the past 20 years and it never occurred to me till now, but I can honestly say that I cannot recall one instance of Derek going left. The funny thing is that I never even noticed this, but I can say one thing about Derek. If you’re cruising with him, he always has his eye on a particular break usually and it is always rights except for one place that can sometimes throw out the odd left. Still don’t ever recall him going left. Not once……

    • Da Pe

      There’s a pic in a Surfers Journal from 2012 with him going left. He is facing straight on and crouched down and leaning back like a King. Think the pic is from somewhere in America and there’s a big dirty looking boat or something in the background. Best pic.

    • Carl Flowers

      Was just thinking this. Never seen him in person but numerous vids.

  • Defro

    Derek Hynd is a great surfer and a great writer, and pushes beyond limits on both fronts. A true radical. Thanks Justin for the article.

  • Don Winblad
  • Derek Hynd

    Left eye blind/Left at Gnarloo.

  • Vince

    Should be “cheers to the best surfer in the world”. No one is more progressive on the face of a wave.

  • droned

    someones gotta know the name of this song, it’s sick

  • Scot Lyf

    That rider on the small stubby/Simmons board ain’t Derek

    • Joe Kook

      thats tyler warren homie. it’s a soapbar. #powervibesforever #rememberthefuture


    COOL all the way around, bros and sisters ( in my book ). ‘da best !

  • Metal ghost

    Awesome. Loved the music.

  • Herbo

    Ripping mate!