Introduction to “Evolver”

Framing Derek Hynd’s—not ours, not yours—arch-informed breakdown of the present’s 100 (or thereabouts) most engrossing wave riders.

Light / Dark

When Derek Hynd approached us with this installation, we minced no words: “Yes” was a mere formality. We’ve been with him all along. As readers, we reveled in his 1982 North Shore dispatch in Surfing World: “I’m Spartacus.” That vigorous report from a lager-sopped Kuilima condo showed US surfers that the Aussies threw down just like us. Well, the best of us, anyway.

Hynd’s relays were not merely embedded. They came wearing non-com olive drab. Soon enough, this rare university-educated touring pro was issuing the most insider, style-drenched reportage on the rack. While his profile and travel work achieved privileged beachheads, he’s more popularly remembered for his Top 30 roundups in late-’80s Surfer magazine. Wicked smart, and sometimes just wicked, Hynd handicapped the ASP field like the stock-picking econ grad that he was—if econ grads were culturally literate tone poets given to solo trips on the Trans-Siberian Express.

As a competitive surfer, Hynd was a Machiavellian tactician in the glory days of priority-free, man-on-man blood sport. At 140 pounds, and a lover, not a fighter, there were much more imposing surfers on the leader- board. But he was a diabolical filero, cutting rivals to ribbons before they felt the first trickle. He ascended to seventh in the world. Almost immediately, he shifted to coaching and marketing, tutoring Occy, among others, and devising Rip Curl’s “The Search” campaign.
As an artist, as a dancer, he exists on an astral plane. Most any board, most any wave. That includes self-imagined vehicles and spots few, if any, have ridden. Viewing a clip of Hynd’s finless work at J-Bay some years ago, our founding publisher—a man not given to haphazard pronunciamientos—called him the best surfer in the world. Hynd was in his fifties during filming. Think about that. Conjure the surfers Steve Pezman dismissed between the time of his personal heroes (Phil Edwards and Reynolds Yater) and the advent of Hynd, wraithlike, skidding as if on Swiss ball bearings, communing with his chosen deity at Supertubes.

As a gadfly, a fan, a provocateur, Hynd has always had a stick in the paint can, checking for bubbles and critiquing the color. In 1999, for instance, he invited TSJ to El Mariachi, his favorite Mexican restaurant in San Clemente, for a tight-lipped gathering of 20 progressive pros keen on fomenting a “rebel tour.” We sat with Andy and Bruce, both sharp-eyed and gentlemanly. Assembling the world’s best to meet in peace, break bread, and hash out a new vision? Vintage Hynd. The effort blew apart, but a point was made: Sanitized surfing must not fly.

To this day, Hynd follows the modern scene with an ex-pro’s knowledge and a punter’s willingness to pick dark horses. Yet his interest has always been too broad for the jejune world of organized surfing. His contact list of international local legends alone could fill the profile category of this book’s pages for five years. Thereby: Evolver. Derek Hynd’s—not ours, not yours—arch-informed breakdown of the present’s most engrossing wave riders. You’ll polo clap, you’ll second-guess, you’ll scream, “What about my Johnny?” But that’s the point. Those who can read between the lines will note a preponderance of Hynd’s own wingmen and running mates—and that’s how it should be. When you come in with the power of achievement, reputation, and longevity, you come in with leverage.

Such exercises are, by nature, fraught and riddled with blind spots. But on these pages, the one-eyed man is king. 

—Scott Hulet

Steve Lis, ranked number 39 on Hynd’s Evolver list. Photo by Jeff Divine.

Evolver Ranking Criteria

By Derek Hynd

Art-Form/Lifestyle Span: The amount of time an individual has practiced the art form and/ or lifestyle that is significantly important. Art form represents approach/footprint in the water, while lifestyle represents approach/footprint on land. Note: This span may or may not include a surfer’s entire life/career. This category accounts only for the length of time that they have risen to distinction under these criteria.

Self-made/Paid: Denotes whether a surfer is paid by the surf industry and/or surf brands or their income is non-endemic to the surf industry. Note: Surfers whose points of distinction were established before or after they became/were paid professionals are categorized as self-made.

Footprint: Intentional/unintentional lifestyle impact(s), with the offset of footprint relative to the plus or minus sum of industrial and/or personal impact on the environment

PoD: Point(s) of distinction, or the characteristics, behaviors, innovations, approaches, mindsets, et cetera, that make a surfer exceptional and warrant their Evolver inclusion and ranking

App: Application(s), or the venue, arena, and/or focus of practice in which PoDs are applied

Pos: Positive impact(s)

Neg: Negative impact(s)

To read Hynd’s full ranking of 100 (or thereabouts) most engrossing postmodern wave riders, pick up a copy of TSJ 33.1.

[Feature image by Grant Ellis]

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