HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Jeff “Mr. Sunset” Hakman, a former Pipeline Masters and Duke Kahanamoku Classic champion, and co-founder of Quiksilver USA, is entering the Surfers’ Hall of Fame. Hakman joins Bruce Brown, Joey Buran and Pat O’Connell as the 2009 inductees into the prestigious Hall of Fame, at 10 a.m. Friday, July 24 in front of Huntington Surf & Sport (corner of PCH and Main). More information is available at hsssurf.com/hall.
“Jeff Hakman is truly one of the greatest surfer’s ever and has been one of the major influences of “Big Wave surfing,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai, “He’s about to get a little concrete on him…and we can’t wait to thank him for all he has done for our Sport of Surfing!!!”
Born in Southern California’s south bay in 1948, Hakman began surfing when his father bought him his first Velzy-Jacobs board at the age of eight. The two would frequently take day trips to surf up and down the west coast. Shortly after his family relocated to Oahu at the age of 12, Hakman would waste little time establishing his North Shore credentials. He began receiving free boards from master shaper Dick Brewer, and also landed a cameo in John Severson’s surf movie Angry Sea.
At the age of 17 and pitted against 23 world class surfers, he won the inaugural Duke Kahanamoku Classic at Sunset Beach in 1965 before a CBS film crew. His win would result in an invitation to join Duke’s surf team and promotional tour. From age 21 to 27 Jeff won more major surfing titles than anyone in the world including the first Pipeline Masters, two more Duke contests, three Hang Ten Internationals and the Gunston Pro. His mastery of and fearless approach to Sunset Beach led to his lifelong moniker, “Mr. Sunset”.
When contests began offering modest amounts of prize money in the early ‘70s, Hakman came out on top the majority of the time despite being among a group of surfers who were regarded as being equal in the terms of skills. Not only were surfers like Gerry Lopez and Fred Hemmings his classmates, they were also some of his biggest competition (Hakman would beat Hemmings, Mike Doyle, Corky Carroll and Mickey Dora in that inaugural Duke Classic).
In the biggest surf ever contested, he narrowly lost to Reno Abellira in the 1974 Smirnoff at Waimea Bay, where he had routinely been surfing since he was 13. Hakman’s other top honors include being named the world’s top big-wave rider in 1966, and surfing’s youngest ever World Champion. He is known for having a surfing style that is the ultimate form-follows-function riding style, and always included a smile. A consistent surfer, with precise lines, Hakman was able to surf for hours or even days without falling off a wave.
While Hakman would have rather capitalized on his new found fame and continue down the pro surfing road, the conflict in Vietnam dictated that he stay in school to avoid being drafted. Upon graduation he enrolled at Maunaolo Junior College on Maui along with good friend Jock Sutherland, returning to Oahu each summer to teach surf lessons for the Punahou School, a ritual he would adhere to for ten years.
In 1976, at the age of 28, Hakman bid professional surfing farewell by winning the prestigious Bells Beach event, becoming the first non-Australian to do so. During his visit to Australia for the competition, Hakman saw potential in a new board-short company, Quiksilver. Hakman, along with co-founder Bob McKnight, secured the Quiksilver USA manufacturing license and quickly turned the small start-up into an industry giant. Unfortunately, due to problems with substance abuse, Hakman would be forced to leave the company.
In 1984, while living in Australia with his family, Quiksilver gave Hakman a chance to redeem himself, by making him a founding partner of Quiksilver Europe. Quiksilver Europe became a huge success, merging with Quiksilver USA in the early Nineties. Hakman and the other board members walked away from the merger as multimillionaires. Financially sound, Hackman moved to Kauai with wife Cherie. He has one son, Ryan, and one daughter, Lea. In 2001, General Publishing Group release a book titled, Mr. Sunset: The Jeff Hackman Story.