North Shore Underground: Hank on Hank

Hank Gaskell in Haleiwa

They call him Hana Hank -- "hana" meaning "work" in Hawaiian. Make no mistake, Hank is prepared to earn his keep. Punching the clock in Haleiwa. Photo: Ryan Foley

North Shore Underground

What happens when a rising star falls out of favor? He may crash and burn and disappear, but if his head’s on straight, he’ll simply come back down to earth and cool off. Hank Gaskell had an am career to suggest Top 10 perpetuity, yet here he is -- homebound, barely sponsored, surfing better than ever. While we try to figure that one out, Hank describes how he landed on his feet after the fall.

Hank Gaskell:

“Since I was about seven or eight years old, it’s always been my dream to become a professional surfer. Nearly everything went to plan. I achieved less than my childhood world title dreams, but I did well in the NSSA and Pro Junior events. I was lucky enough to see a big part of the world, doing ‘QS events and surfing some of the best waves on earth.

I rode for Hurley from age 11 until 22, thinking all along that I was a part of the family, and that they weren’t like most corporate monsters. I was wrong. They dropped me almost a year before my contract was up, blaming the economy, which was bullshit, because they had just turned in record profits. I’m still bitter about that.

On the other hand, the past year and a half has held some of the best times of my life. It sounds funny, but after spending so many years traveling, I’ve been stoked to spend time at home. I have a garden, a fruit orchard, an awesome dog, great family and friends. Being underground is natural to me. The thing I miss most is surfing good waves year ’round and not having to work.

While I do enjoy where I’m at now, there really isn’t a big future in it. I will eventually need to find a real career if I keep on this path. On that note, I do want a surfing career. I want to be an innovative, well-rounded waterman, and I want to get paid for it. I believe I deserve this, and I’m committed to doing everything I can to achieve it.”