Hynd, Derek


Bright, quirky Australian pro surfer and journalist from Newport, New South Wales; world-ranked #7 in 1981; author of hundreds of surf media articles and columns between the early '80s and the early '10s.

Hynd was born (1957) and raised in the Sydney suburbs, moved with his family to Newport in 1966, began surfing in 1968, and earned a B.A. in economics from Sydney University in 1978. Joining the world pro tour the following year, he finished the season ranked #32, then jumped to #12 in 1980. Small and wiry (5' 9," 145 pounds), with double-jointed elbows, Hynd liked to punctuate his laterally drawn lines with flashy layback moves and 360-degree spins. Blinded in his right eye after being struck by his board during a contest in 1980, Hynd surprised everyone by finishing the 1981 season ranked #7. The following season he dropped to #20, and at age 25 retired from competition.

Hynd began writing for Surfing World in 1978; in 1983 he started working for Tracks, and the following year began contributing to Surfer. His prose was by turns insightful, witty, obscure, raunchy, and morbid. He wrote profiles and travel pieces, but is best remembered for his coverage of the world pro tour, particularly his annual Surfer analysis of the top-ranked surfers. Debuting in 1987 as "The New ASP Top 30" (changed to the "Top 44" in 1992), Hynd's article included each surfer's ratings from the previous three years, and a short, often critical paragraph on their performance from the previous season. For 15th-ranked Charlie Kuhn of Florida, Hynd wrote, in part: "He has lost the bastard desire to win, and there's not much purpose evident right now. A mellow, super-nice guy, obviously lacking in the necessary forward-advancing emotions: spite, jealousy and ego." Hynd also gave a one-or two-word prediction for each surfer's future world title chances: usually "no chance," but occasionally "faint possibility," "possibility," or, rarer still, "definite." Hynd's predictions were usually accurate, but he was fallible; at the end of the 1988 season he gave South African–raised surfer Martin Potter "no chance" for the 1989 championship, then watched as Potter ran away with the title.

Hynd also worked as a pro surfing coach from 1984 to 1988, most notably with Australian power surfer and future world champion Mark Occhilupo. In 1992 he developed "The Search," a long-running marketing campaign for Rip Curl wetsuits that focused on exotic surf locations and kept retired world champion surfer Tom Curren in the media spotlight; in 1999 he made Pro Land, a surf video; in 2001 he organized the Hebridean Surf Festival in Scotland, on the Isle of Lewis, with attending surfers including Curren and Skip Frye. Always willing to experiment with surfboard equipment, Hynd was among the first to ride second-generation fish boards (which in turn helped launch the sport's "retro" movement), and in the late '00s he became the leading proponant of finless surfing, or "free friction" as he preferred to call it.

Hynd was featured in Sultans of Speed (1987), Litmus (1997), and Glass Love (2003), among other surf movies and videos. He also starred in Musica Surfica, a documentary joining classical music and finless surfing, and Best Feature Film winner at the 2008 New York Surf Film Festival.