It’s something a lot of people talk about but few are able to accomplish: to die while doing something they love. On Friday, January 21, 2005, Carl Hayward, renowned Huntington Beach surfboard shaper, surfer, husband and father of three, did just that at the untimely age of 48. He was found floating in the water near the south side of the Huntington Pier, where he had spent so much of his time surfing. On Sunday, Jan. 30, hundreds of friends and family gathered together there for one last goodbye and a paddle-out fit for surf royalty.
Hayward was known for embracing the Rocket-Fish design, and as a shaper, for specializing in the production of them. He owned and operated a surf shop—Carl Hayward Surfboards—in Huntington Beach for approximately 10 years with friend and partner Dwight Dunn. Hayward then worked with Bob Hurley at Hurley International in Costa Mesa, California.
At 11 a.m. on Sunday, a steady stream of wetsuit-clad surfers carrying flowers paddled their way along the south side of the pier while throngs of onlookers observed from above. Once in a circle, surfers threw flowers and splashed around in the water to announce to King Neptune that Carl was coming. They then chanted, “Hayward! Hayward!” Hundreds of people watched from the south railing. The circle then disbanded and most rode waves to shore to fraternize and talk about their friend.
“I basically attribute my whole surfing thing to him. He was like, ‘Hey, this guy is good, he should ride on our boards,’” said Scott Farnsworth, who won the 1984 Amateur Championship in Huntington on a Hayward board. “He never asked me for anything other than feedback and made me hundreds of boards over about 10 years.”
About Sunday’s paddle-out, Farnsworth said, “It was really cool, it was just an unbelievable turnout. It was mind-boggling how many people came and gave support. It was a huge tribute to how many people liked him and what a cool guy he was. I just hope half the amount of people show up at my funeral as showed up at his.”