Yerkes, Bill


Resilient surf filmmaker and entrepreneur, originally from New Jersey. Yerkes was born (1947) in Mount Holly, New Jersey, raised in Pemberton, and began surfing at Malibu in 1960, after his family moved briefly to Southern California. He founded a one-man film production company in the mid-'60s, and became the first East Coast surf moviemaker, with titles including How the East Was Won (1967) and A Way of Life (1968); he received a B.S. in film from New York's Ithaca College in 1969. In 1977 Yerkes became a licensee for Sundek beachwear—already known for its brightly colored nylon trunks and jackets—and during the late '70s and '80s he built the company into one of the largest in the surf world. In 1999, Yerkes opened the Balsa Bill Surf Shop in Satellite Beach, Florida. He was inducted into the East Coast Surf Legends Hall of Fame in 1998. Yerkes has lived on the central Florida coast since 1974.