Behind the Brand: When Gerry Lopez was asked a few years ago what single breakthrough facilitated his success at Pipeline, he went out of his way to credit Mike Hynson for the advent of the down-rail. "Before that, we were only pocket riding," said Lopez. "With the down-rails and the hard edges could stay locked inside, and travel behind the curtain." At the time, Hynson's place in surf history was marginalized to his starring role in Bruce Brown's original Endless Summer, and his flameouts that followed. But Lopez's words were a gracious reminder of Hynson's influential role as a surfboard designer, a role that had been nearly forgotten. Hynson began shaping in Pacific Beach in 1959. By the time he reached Junior High School he was already shaping for G&S. A short time later he was Hobie's head production shaper. The "Hynson Red Fin" became one of the most popular models of the '60s, with riders like Skip Frye, Butch Van Artsdalen, Barry Kanaiaupuni, and Herbie Fletcher singing its praises. In the wake of Lopez' remarks, the surf world suddenly began rediscovering Hynson's other contributions, including his extensive efforts in fin design. But more surprisingly, they found Hynson, today, still focused on cutting-edge design. In the midst of fish mania sweeping the coasts, Hynson was balking at anything retro, offering up his very post-modern Black Knight Quad instead—a board not made for doing soul poses, but for state-of-the-art speed and performance. Bottom line: few shapers, if any, have influenced as many eras as Hynson.
About his Most Popular Models: Without a doubt, the Black Knight Quad, (and the BKQ2) is what has put Hynson's name back in the conversation of cutting-edge designers. While it's inspired by the early '70s fishes, this board is anything but retro. The rails, rocker, foil, and fin setup are all cutting edge (so too, is the composite technology its available in), making it far more versatile than its predecessors. "Guys of all ages are having a blast riding them," says Hynson. "It's a trans-generational design."
Taking the Pulse: "The surfboard has to work in harmony with itself, the surfer, and the wave. The rocker, the outline, the fins, rails and bottom contour all need to have this harmony for the design to be a good. The application of different materials may change certain aspects of the response of the design, but the design itself is the cornerstone."Shop Talk
How do think the customer's attitude has changed going into 2009? "Most surfers have a good idea of what they want until they try something different and have a good time, opening up a whole new experience. People are more concerned with becoming well-rounded surfers now, and understanding how and why a board works. That's an important first step to evolution."
What's the most important thing to look for in a board? "The ability to have a good time riding it. That's what this is all about."