Agreeable, clean-cut goofyfooter from Orange County, California; costar of Bruce Brown's 1966 crossover hit surf movie The Endless Summer, and longtime surfboard shaper/manufacturer. August was born (1948) in Hermosa Beach, California, and raised in Seal Beach, just north of Huntington. He began surfing at age six, under the guidance of his father, Blackie August, a one-time Redondo Beach lifeguard who surfed with Duke Kahanamoku during the famous Hawaiian's frequent visits to California.
August developed a smooth and relaxed wave-riding style, and later became a dependable if not spectacular competitive surfer, placing fourth in the men's division of the 1963 West Coast Championships, third in the 1964 United States Invitational, and third in the 1965 United States Surfing Championships. He was also invited to the 1965 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational.
In his early teens, August was featured in two of Bruce Brown's surf movies, and a few months after high school graduation (he was senior class president), the 18-year-old flew with Brown and San Diego surfer Mike Hynson to Senegal to begin filming Endless Summer. Over the next few months they traveled through Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti. A live-narration version of The Endless Summer debuted on the beach-city surf circuit in 1964; the slightly modified final edition came out in 1966 to glowing reviews in Time, Newsweek, and the New Yorker. August and Hynson had no speaking lines (Brown's narration is heard throughout), but both became minor pop culture stars.
August worked in 1965 as a salesman at Jacobs Surfboards in Hermosa. He began shaping boards in 1966, first for Jacobs, then as a Huntington-area freelancer. August opened the Endless Summer restaurant in Huntington in 1971, a venture, he later told Longboard magazine, that "set a world record for losing money." In 1974 he opened Robert August Surf Shop in Fullerton, and two years later relocated to Huntington. The longboard renaissance, beginning in the early '80s, was a boon to August's business; he closed the retail store in 1998, but by 2000 his boardmaking factory was producing about 4,000 boards a year—almost exclusively longboards and longboard hybrids—and distributing them to dozens of outlets worldwide.
August had a cameo in 1994's Endless Summer II, Bruce Brown's long-awaited sequel, and he was inducted that year into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame. In 2001, he was featured in Biographies, a documentary series produced by Opper Films. He also appeared in 2003's Step Into Liquid.