I cannot remember a time in my life as a surfer when I didn’t know the names Skip Frye and Mike Hynson. In my mind, these two friends were forever linked, after showing up in numerous Surfer Magazine spreads and presenting their models through Gordon & Smith Surfboards, where they both shaped their own models in the mid-1960s.
By the late 1960s, the model era abruptly ended along with surfing contests and other frills, as surfers turned to what was termed “soul surfing,” which resonated with an inner feeling, rather than showy competitive poses. Both Frye and Hynson had gone their own ways by the very late 1960s, Frye designing and riding modified Vee bottoms and eggs at PB Point and the Cliffs, Hynson moving into the bigger waves of Hawaii on his down railed guns.
In that era, Frye could often be seen at PB Point, surfing the long, gentle waves that wrap in there, or on the beach, black radio tuned to the soul station XERB. In the water, his style became more and more polished, with long skating turns and cutbacks and rides that didn’t end until the last bit of energy had been squeezed.
While Frye’s boards were often clear and muted in their tints, Hynson had his Rainbow Surfboards sprayed with the brightest colors imaginable. I had seen Hynson surf Honolua Bay one winter day in 1969 before getting a closer look at his wave riding skills later that year at Windansea. He had taken off in front of me, moved to the top of the wave and side slipped down the face. With long hair flying and boards that often reflected his Eastern philosophy, Hynson was sometimes called The Maharishi by those who knew him. If Hynson was playing electric guitar at full volume in stadiums, Frye was strumming acoustic to packed coffee houses.
Then Frye, who had been a Christian for as long as I can remember, turned up the volume of his faith and proclaimed it boldly, but gently, to anyone who would listen. Many Christians can take a lesson from Frye’s approach here, as to my knowledge he has never offended anyone with his proselytizing and I have never heard anyone, in the 40-some years since I known of him and the 30-some years I have known him personally, say a bad word about him.
Hynson and Frye had grown apart, and I did not see them together again until the 1980s, when they once again began hanging out. After a brief reunion, Frye moved his shop, Hynson moved on, and the two fell out of contact.
Scott Bass’s Sacred Craft Surfboard Expo accomplished many things in the surf world, one of which was the reunion of Frye and Hynson. Then suddenly there they were, sitting together, talking, laughing and signing classic posters, one of Frye paddling out while Hynson arched his way through a section at Cojo. Seeing them together made me feel so good that I went home and called an old surf buddy, speaking to him for hours about the shadows of the greats that we once surfed beneath, remembering when.
Filed Under: Sea Notes