This week’s style heroes post is dedicated to the legendary Derek Hynd, a quixotic fellow with an against-the-grain approach who tells it like it is--a combination that equals possibly the smoothest and most aesthetically pleasing wave jazz you’ll ever see. What Derek does best is draw fast and simple lines. He's a genius at maximizing a wave’s speed pockets and avoiding unnecessary movements.
I first became aware of Derek while poring through the world tour reports he wrote for Surfer Magazine in the 1980s and 90s. His writing was utterly astute and uncompromising in its analysis of professional surfing, though I didn’t appreciate it till I learned to read the articles as well as drool over the photos. At that time Derek’s surfing was already legendary in the minds of those in the know, but to a banana-rocker-board-obsessed grommet like me, he was just some cynical and witty writer guy who had spent some time on the tour when I was in diapers.
Then Andrew Kidman’s seminal film Litmus came out in 1996 and wabam! Derek’s part at JBay blew my mind. He rides a variety of boards the way they were meant to be ridden: high lines, grab rail cutbacks, and hip jiggles on the keel fish; soul arches, under the lip slashes, and the amazing frontside lay-back on the gunnier boards; and tai chi cross stepping on an 11’ glider. My approach to surfing changed in direct response. I was already clued in to the subtle and graceful lines of Rob Machado and Tom Curren when Derek made concrete the fact that smooth surfing on a variety of equipment was the epitome of the kind of surfing I wanted to do and the kind of surfer I wanted to be.
As luck would have it, I got to meet Derek a few years ago. He showed up in New York to talk story with Jamie Brisick at Pilgrim Surf + Supply, especially about his current turn to finless surfing after losing an eye. We hit it off immediately and set up a surf mission for the next three days. We were joined by Manly photographer Murray Fraser and a few other surf buddies. During our drives Derek told us stories of growing up in Sydney and his time on the pro tour. We had in depth discussions about the state of professional surfing and agreed that the format could really use some work (to say the least!). The icing on the cake of this hero-meeting adventure was on the third day, when we scored the best waves I’ve ever surfed in New York. Derek was on most of the best set waves and also snuck into some of those inside gems I’m always raving about on Instagram (the really good waves that mostly go unridden because no one sees them).
Those keen on developing a smooth style can take cues from Derek’s approach. This doesn’t mean we all need to jump on the finless bandwagon (I haven’t done that yet), but we can incorporate some of the movements Master Hynd demonstrates in his practice. I love his ability to alternately stay low and extend his body, and how he holds his hands and moves his feet. The poetic stillness and radical expression in Derek’s surfing—as if he’s listening to the wave and speaking through it—makes him a true style hero.
More on Derek: