Rugged regularfooter originally from Orange County, California; a standout power surfer of the early and mid-1970s. Hawk was born (1950) in South Gate, and began surfing at age 14 in Huntington Beach; along with brothers Tom and Chris, he was soon regarded as one of the area's top riders. In 1967, Hawk moved to the North Shore of Oahu and found that the big Hawaiian waves perfectly matched his aggressive but fluid approach. By 1971 he was among the pacesetters at Sunset Beach and Rocky Point, while at Pipeline he was regarded as by far the most advanced regularfooter.
Photographs and film clips of the blond-haired Hawk squaring off against Pipeline's cavernous tubes on January 17, 1972—soon dubbed Huge Monday—sent shock waves throughout the surf world. "Sammy surfs with complete and total abandon," Surfer magazine reported in its Huge Monday article. "He gets into spots that no one else will go for. It's a miracle that he's lived as long as he has." Hawk's performances at Pipeline stood as a benchmark until the "backside attack" movement of 1975–76.
Never a keen competition surfer, Hawk nonetheless posted a few good results in the North Shore pro events, including a fourth in the 1972 Pipeline Masters and a third in the 1974 Duke Kahanamoku Classic. He was also invited to the 1971 Expression Session. Hawk appeared in a small number of surf movies, including Oceans (1972), Five Summer Stories (1972), Going Surfin' (1973), and Super Session (1975).
A protégé of master surfboard shaper Dick Brewer in the early '70s, Hawk himself quickly became a highly regarded boardmaker, first for the Brewer label, then with his own small business. He continued to surf through the decades, and was Australian Cheyne Horan's tow partner during the enormous Biggest Wednesday swell that hit the North Shore in January 1998.
Chris Hawk, Sam's brother, also a highly-talented surfer-shaper, was inducted to the Huntington Beach Surfers Hall of Fame in 2009.