Small, shy, whisper-voiced regularfooter from Honolulu, Hawaii; runner- up in the 1966 World Surfing Championships, and remembered for her subtle but beautiful technique. Hamasaki was born (1946) and raised in Honolulu, and began surfing at age 10 in Waikiki. In 1963 she moved to Dana Point, California, where she lived for 10 years.
Had it not been for Capistrano Beach surfer and two-time world champion Joyce Hoffman, Hamasaki would have been the dominant woman surfer of the era. As it was, the dark-haired Honolulu transplant finished second to Hoffman in the 1964 Makaha International, the 1965 United States Surfing Association (USSA) final ratings, the 1966 World Championships and the 1967 USSA final ratings, as well as the 1965, 1966, and 1967 Surfer Magazine Readers Poll Awards. Hoffman was the more aggressive and creative surfer, but the 5' 2" Hamasaki was grace personified on a wave, with a hip-cocked, back-arch bottom turn that helped define the mid-'60s surfing style. "Joey had great style," top American surfer Corky Carroll later recalled. "Kind of a female version of David Nuuhiwa; really flowing and smooth."
Hamasaki won the 1966 Malibu Invitational (Hoffman placed third), just before Wardy Surfboards in Laguna Beach introduced the Joey Hamasaki signature model, one of the very few models endorsed by a woman. A career highlight came in 1967, when she won the East Coast Surfing Championships, beating both Hoffman and soon-to-be world champion Margo Godfrey in the final.
The reserved Hamasaki was never interviewed or profiled by the surf press, and appeared in just a small number of surf films, including Barefoot Adventure (1960) and Fantastic Plastic Machine (1969). From 1963, until she returned to Hawaii in 1973, Hamasaki glossed surfboards for various Southern California boardmakers, including Hobie and Weber.