Flippy Hoffman Passes Away at 80


Flippy holding a new board at the Makaha House circa 1952-1953.
Flippy holding a new board at the Makaha House circa 1952-1953. Photo: The Hoffman Family/SHF

Big-wave pioneer, industry leader, and surfing legend Phillip "Flippy" Hoffman passed away on November 10 at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, CA. He was suffering from complications with unspecified pulmonary issues.

As one of the first Mainland surfers to move to Hawaii's North Shore to tackle massive winter swells with surfboard designer Bob Simmons, Flippy was a true pioneer for our sport. He took surfing into uncharted territory, charging new waves in Hawaii and becoming one of the first surfers to explore the coastline of Mexico to hunt for surf. His adventurous nature was not limited to surfing, as Flippy was also a skilled diver. He would search for abalone off San Clemente Island, and was notoriously too tough to let the "bends" slow him down.

When Flippy and his brother, Walter (also a big-wave pioneer), took over the family business in the late 1950s, they contributed even further to the sport that they loved. Hoffman California Fabrics became the main supplier of textiles to many of the early surf labels. Flippy Hoffman was one of the godfathers of our sport, and will be dearly missed. “Flippy has always explored new territory from the very beginning, being the first to body surf Pipeline and the first to ride Phantoms on a wave runner at 80 without the use of his legs. He lived the life of a true pioneer,” said Flippy’s nephew, Herbie Fletcher. “Flippy did it his way, and he killed it.”

Flippy's legacy will continue on through his family who share the same love for the ocean that he did. He is survived by his brother Walter, his son Marty, his daughter Dana, and his five grandchildren. He will also be deeply missed by Walter's children, which include Walter's daughter, former World Champion Joyce Hoffman, son-in-law Herbie Fletcher Herbie Fletcher (married to Dibi Hoffman), grandsons Christian and Nathan Fletcher, and great-grandson Grayson Fletcher.

Flippy Hoffman on the right, and Bob Simmons on the peak. Makaha Winter of 1952-1953.
Flippy Hoffman on the right, and Bob Simmons on the peak. Makaha Winter of 1952-1953. Photo: The Hoffman Family/SHF
Photo: Fletcher Family Archives
Photo: Fletcher Family Archives
Photo: Fletcher Family Archives
Photo: Fletcher Family Archives