A lot is going to be written, spoken and shown about Mike Doyle as he is inducted into the Hermosa Beach Surfer’s Walk of Fame this weekend. So here are a few of my favorite memories.
Doyle in my opinion may be the best all-around waterman in surfing history. No one has shown the skill and diversity across so many different genres. Surfing, paddling, tandem surfing, lifeguard iron man, design, shaping and manufacturing and all of it has been performed at a world-class level.
One of my first encounters with Mike was while I was in high school. I was surfing with volleyball great John Gonzalez just down from the Gonzalez family home on 26th Street in Hermosa. Doyle was already an icon at that time and this is one of the reasons why. His recognizable style and ability made it easy to spot him surfing a few hundred yards north. He kept getting closer and closer, surfing rights on every wave. He continued surfing south going right on every wave.
An hour or more passed and the same scenario repeated itself, except he was going left and heading north. Although I really did not know him at the time, I asked him what he was doing and he said this was a great way to get in a good training session. He would enter the water in El Porto and paddle just at the surf line, always heading one direction and taking off whenever a wave would present itself. He would reach the Hermosa Pier and then paddle around the Redondo Breakwater or beyond and then repeat the process in reverse until reaching El Porto again.
I had the opportunity to imitate Doyle on a trip to Cabo in the mid 1970s. We were surfing in front of his house located on Costa Azul at two fun locations — Zippers and the Rock. Current women’s world champion Debbie Melville was staying at the El Presidente Hotel about five minutes away. She was traveling with a coach/trainer and a camera crew getting footage for a documentary.
It was 4 or 5 foot and pretty good and the three of us pretty much had it to ourselves for most of the day. That evening the El Presidente was opening a new conference center and ballroom. Doyle and of course Debbie were celebrity invitees and I was a lucky enough to be a tag along. There was plenty of food while margaritas and beer were flowing freely for the couple of hundred guests. To my surprise there was a large screen as a backdrop and the surf footage of the three of us from earlier in the day was showing the entire evening. By a luck of fate, for one night at least, I was able to experience the lifestyle and adulation of a surf star by signing autographs and glad handing most of the evening. It is a day and night I will always treasure.
The past several years Sports Chalet has been carrying products endorsed by Doyle, my son Johnny and me. Just prior to Memorial Day we put on a training day for these products. A hundred or more summer aquatic sales managers from most of the Sport Chalet outlets were there. Surf lessons on Doyle Soft Surf Boards are always the day’s highlight.
This past May, as always, Doyle and Johnny put on a surf exhibition prior to instruction while I narrated from the sand. Doyle, who is 72 years old, is still an excellent surfer and all eyes and cameras are always on him whenever he enters the water. This day was slightly blown out and in the 5 foot range at State Beach in Huntington. With everyone watching on his first wave as he was standing, he hit a chop and went rear end first right off the tail, just like any beginner. We all at one time or another experience this but what makes Doyle so great is he quickly retrieved his board and picked off an overhead set with a bottom turn, quick trip to the nose, nice floater and rode to the sand to erase any doubts that the legend still surfs.
Surf happenings: This Saturday, April 6, at 11 a.m. by the Hermosa Beach Pier, I have the honor and privilege to introduce my friend Mike Doyle as he is inducted into the Hermosa Beach Surfer’s Walk of Fame. The main event is part of the Spyder Surf Fest. For more information, see story on page 35.
Weekend surf forecast: 2 to 3 feet on Friday increasing slightly throughout the weekend. There will be 4 ½ feet high tides about 8:30 a.m. and a low of zero feet at 2:30 p.m.