Posted on 13 February 2019
Long, long before Laird Zerfas Hamilton was born, there was a hero of a man doing exceptional things with surfing and skiing. His name is Mike Doyle.
I first heard about Mike in 1958 when some of my older beach friends were talking about surfing and his name came up with a kind of reverence that is associated with Tarzan or Hercules. I was 10 years old and I would become a surfer the following year. Surfing movies were still in their infant stages and Bud Browne was the man doing the lead work of capturing those early moments. That is when I got to see Mike Doyle in action. He was a handsome figure resembling Rodin's early Roman statues - tall and muscular with a head of curls and a strong roman nose. This man could do everything well. He pioneered small-wave hotdogging and ruled the massive steep faces of Waimea. He was a Tandem surfer without peer and a champion long-distance paddler and fantastic body surfer. Not only a waterman of the highest caliber, but a champion skier who was the man who invented the single ski and influenced the very first snow board designs. As I rose through the ranks of the surfing elite, I became friends with Mike and many of his friends, like Joey Cabell and Rusty Miller who, like Doyle, reserved that sacred hero space. I worked with Mike at Hansen surfboards in Cardiff in 1967 making resin fins from silicone rubber molds and getting to know this vibrant life-loving man whose attitude was always reflected by a positive smile and a friendly laugh, not to mention a human being in perpetual motion. Around this period of time, Garth Murphy and Mike opened up a little shop in Encinitas and started producing a new form of surfboard wax that would be the first of its kind called Wax Research. It would make the old paraffin wax bars obsolete and create a revolution that spawned a cottage industry.
In 2003, I was invited to Park City Utah by Ray Santa Maria, one of Mike's good friends to attend a snowboarding party that included Joey Cabell, Nat Young, Gerry Lopez, LJ Richards, Herbie Fletcher, Mickey Munoz, Barfoot, a snowboarding legend and a host of other talented skiers and boarders. It was atop a steep valley at 10,000 vertical feet in the Wascatch range that we heard the news of Micky Dora's passing. We all bowed our heads and prayed for one of our surfing brothers. As we raised our heads, a massive Golden Eagle swooped down into the valley and dipped its wings in a large flying circle and left. One of the guides said he had never seen an Eagle up there. Rare? Later that evening we would retire to a condo that housed all of us and we would party.
As I recollect, Mike Doyle was the last man standing. The next morning I joined Mike, Nat, and Joey to do some snowboard carving. They were all seasoned vets and they were there to teach me the basics. So, for three hours they patiently helped me along. I remember the sparkle in Doyle's eyes and that wide grin when I finally got it. An hour later I would take a nasty fall and separate both my achilles tendons. Ouch! But what fun we had! Being with all those guys is a lifetime memory. I want to take the opportunity to thank Mike for all he has done for me personally and the rest of the surfing and skiing world. Our job is done when we make this a better place than we found it, and Mr. Mike Doyle, you have done that and more!!!
All the best Bill Hamilton