The Perfect ’70s Surfer

Terry Fitz + BK + John Peck = Sam Hawk

Give me the DNA know-how and a pair of med students in lab coats, and I would love to take a crack at building the perfect ’70s surfer. I would call him…Sam Hawk. Because that is the best surfer name ever. Now toss over a petri dish and a gene splicer, let’s get to it! Start with a nice fat wet strand of Terry Fitzgerald. Add a little John Peck. Barry Kanaiaupuni, of course. Little more BK. Little more. OK, good. Buzzy Trent’s chest and arms, scaled down 15 percent. Buzzy Trent’s cajones, full-size. Breweresque skill with the planer. Robert Redford hair, eyes, jawline, and bang! We’re done.

Sam Hawk was the missing link between the Mount Rushmore Hawaiians (Lopez, Hakman, Reno, BK), and the Bustin’ Down the Door gang (Shaun, Bugs, MR) who followed. Powerful and fearless. Stylish from here to next year. White trunks, white board, a late-takeoff-to-deep-bottom-turn line at Pipeline so clean and pure and perfect that you need a French curve to render it properly. As a backside tuberider, he was, almost to the day, four years ahead of his time. Took Shaun and Michael Tomson combined to finally better Hawk’s mark at Pipe.

Piecing together Sam Hawk’s original EOS page back in 2001 was hard. Could not track the man down. Found next to nothing in the database; no bios, interviews, or profiles. I finally got what was needed—although it was a bare minimum—by more or less sticking my hand between the surf-media cushions and grubbing around for bits and pieces. All the great Sam Hawk photos and vid clips were still there, solid and timeless as John Bonham’s drumming on “Kashmir.” But the rest of his entry came out pretty thin. This week, retooling his page before posting it online—same deal. Google this former surf-world colossus and you get 3,000 dead ends.

What to do? I left the text almost totally unchanged from 11 years ago (had no choice), then made the vid you see here. Enjoyed every moment. Apparently, criminally, this is the only all-Sam-Hawk clip on the entire damn internet. If so, knock a little chunk off my mountainous debt to surfing. I have shined my little light for the day.

Best wishes to you, Sam Hawk, wherever you are.