Mike Hynson has represented almost every surf archetype imaginable during the course of his 40-plus-year career. An experimental surf explorer during the ’60s, a counterculture icon during the ’70s, a shadowy semi-outlaw during the ’80s and ’90s, Hynson has reemerged in recent years in a role that—while always part of his persona—seemed be overshadowed by the other larger-than-life aspects of his character: that of a designer. Credited with the creation of several innovations, including the original down-rail prototypes that allowed surfers to conquer Pipeline, Hynson has always approached surfing from a perspective that puts a premium on pushing the evolution of modern equipment to match its wavescapes. “The down-rail changed tube-riding overnight,” said Gerry Lopez during an interview with SURFER. “Pipeline became a real possibility and that was all Hynson.”
With a shaping career that began in 1959, Hynson, known primarily for his role in The Endless Summer, also developed a reputation as a craftsman. A head production shaper at Hobie and at G&S, he developed the “Red Fin” tri-stringer Hynson Model, which was hugely popular in the ’60s with riders such as Skip Frye, Billy Hamilton, Herbie Fletcher, Barry Kanaiaupuni, and Butch Van Artsdalen. Afterward, during the ’60s and ’70s, he also worked at Fins Unlimited in research and development where he created the “Dolfin,” a popular fin design patterned after a dolphin’s dorsal fin. The down-rail—perhaps his most lasting contribution to design—arose during the ’70s as well, and today he combines that trademark element with his understanding of quad-fin templates to produce several of the most dynamic boards in his catalogue.
Today Hynson still shapes custom boards out of his shop in Encintitas and has a line of molded epoxy surfboards with Boardworks. Hynson’s hugely popular Black Knight Quad has been one of Boardworks most successful and best selling models because of it’s speed and versatility. Hynson comments,”I’ve always been focused on cutting-edge design and creating shapes that allow a surfer to do the unexpected, to be in the zone and surf better than he or she knew they could.”