Doyle Surfboards and SUP

Hansen East Coast Tour

Posted on 17 February 2019

Hang on for this ride! It’s a long one but well worth it!

From Don Hansen:

Rusty help! I was trying to remember the details of the trip that I sent you and Mike Doyle and Garth Murphy onto the East Coast I believe it was a promotional trip for surf research and I bought a brand new Ford Mustang for you guys to take on the trip?  As I recall somewhere on the way to the East Coast you guys had some kind of a wreck and screwed up the car up? 


Garth stepped up:

So here is the real story in bullet points. I will write it out in full for a soon-coming Netflix screenplay..

Don is correct only in that the trip took place and the Mustang was pink. Year summer of 65 I think.

Why Diamond Don bought a NEW Pink Mustang is beyond me. Not the best board carrying vehicle nor Hanson Surfboards billboard, but great for picking up girls.

The trip was a promotion for Hanson Surfboards' east coast summer season. (Surf Research was the result of that trip's hi-jinx and insights into the markets for surfing equipment.) Rusty was US Champion and Doyle Duke Champ so Don decided they should do a celebrity summer tour of all his East Coast dealerships to promote his new models. I was the shop salesman assigned to chaperone the older and more rambunctious stars. Rusty was on the University of the Seven Seas luxury liner doing a round the world sex and social studies cruise that finished in New York. Doyle was too big a star to ask to drive the Mustang across the continent, so he flew in to meet us. Don grudgingly provided me with a credit card that only I could sign on and entrusted me and Mike Devorak with the 4 day and night Mustang ride to the Manhattan docks. Devorak would be copilot and take the bus home once we hit NY.

The cross-country trip: I had never had a credit card or driven a new car so felt the burden of responsibility from the outset. Neither of us had ever been west of Julian. We ceremoniously launched one afternoon from the shop with Don waving hopefully and me driving the pink shiny new ride with racks and two boards strapped on.

At the Arizona border we changed seats because I was tired. It was a pitch-black night and I climbed in back and dozed off. Awoke to a crash and scream from Devorak as we rear-ended a much larger car. My co-pilot had fallen asleep at the wheel and run up on another night crawler speeding in the tunnel of dark desert. I was only worried about the Mustang. Not a thought for the other driver. Mustang looked good but for paint on the bumper. Struck vehicle had a small dent on trunk. Driver exited holding his neck and rubbed it while we examined the cars in our headlights. MY panic then switched to visions of cops and whiplash and lawsuits and insurance.

At the last-minute, before we took off, Don had felt guilty that we had no cash and given me two one-hundred dollar bills "just in case." I carefully peeled one off and handed it to the injured party, said I'm sorry this should cover it, we really have to go, on our way to New York. Need to meet a ship. Sorry sir. Good luck.

I jumped behind the wheel, Devorak slipped into shotgun and we peeled out, leaving a sore neck a dinged car and half of our cash budget by the side of the road. I gave D the silent treatment and thenceforth did all the driving, D's only contribution was to make sure I stayed awake. Fueled by fear and caffeine we did not stop until New York.

New York navigation was a nightmare of stress for the country bumpkins, but with a paper map I managed to get to the Greyhound bus station, seaport dock and the airport, to deposit D and pick up Rusty and Mike all in one day, without hitting any cars, buildings or pedestrians. We raced out to Long Island, arriving in the dark to stay our first night back east at the home of a dealer, Ron Jon himself.

So much for the planned romantic route 66 crossing of the continent in a pink Mustang. I do not remember a single state but Arizona, a single stop for food or gas, or any wonder of the world river, purple mountains majesty or fruited plains. Just black top and that mug of milky coffee with four cubes of white sugar.

The tour itself is a road movie so I will save it for the Netflix special, but Rusty got off the boat as a worldly, global experienced and multi-cultural bon vivant. A know it all who treated Mike and me like lowly surf dogs. Mike was trying to sell his latest and worst ever invention, the Mama Doyle hat, a complete failure that made us look like circus clowns and which I refused to wear. The official Doyle hat photo features me with hat in hand and closed eyes, making myself invisible in some Don Juan peyote dream lesson attempt, and Mike and Rusty looking like, well, embare-assed clowns. I still have it somewhere.

Mike was in love with Jamie Robinson and pining to be with her. Rusty had just laid a ship-full of women on a worldwide rampage. Full of confidence he hound-hunted for fair game on land. My girlfriend had just married her high school boyfriend. I was broken hearted and plotting to kidnap her and have George Greenough drive us out to the Channel Islands and maroon us there together. We were a moral and mental mess and the surfing exhibitions were mostly in shit or no surf, the shop events poorly attended, leaving me especially feeling the guilty kook as I doled out Don's money..

My power over the stars was the credit card, which I cruelly wielded on a daily basis, including diet health control of their big appetites for booze and burgers. Uh huh!

We got good surf in New Jersey. Little offshore wind-swell rights, long rides parallel to the beach I could nose ride on. I met a girl at a party who assuaged my inferiority complex and broken heart as only a beautiful woman can. The highlight of my trip. Mike and I tortured Rusty by being overly gauche, bad mannered and insensitive to racial and social issues - to dampen his relentless world wise political correctness.

In Florida Mike bought a 22 pistol, semi-automatic that he and I took pleasure in shooting out the Mustang windows at signs and crows and anything under the bar of murder. At one point in west Florida Rusty, foreseeing carnage in every wild shot, (there was none) angrily demanded we stop, or he was getting out. I slammed on the brakes and he tumbled out screaming at us as we burned rubber west, heading for Texas. Eventually we tuned around, after recovering from a dangerous-driving laughing fit. When Rusty slowly got in the back seat, Mike punched it and swung the wheel wildly just as he felt Rusty's butt hit the seat. Rusty tried the silent scowl so I pulled out the 22 and fired a couple of quick shots out the window as a conversation opener/closer.

There was a plane strike so Mike and I could not fly home and we drove to Texas to get the nearest plane to LA.

Rusty went back alone to retrace our steps, going north from dealer to dealer, making sure to quitter-dis us at every stop and violate any of the women that had liked me. This I found out when my New Jersey lady friend came to CA to visit and she recounted Rusty's aggressive play on her giblets - which he claims was successful and she steadfastly denied. Lest we forget, those were the days when ships were made of wood, men were made of steel and women were, well they were great and did not complain much, so long as we supported their issues: the burning and discarding of bras, abortion and general women's liberation. Men were respected, before they started taking our jobs, took rape and molestation away from strangers in the woods and dark alleys, and discovered it in conjugal bedrooms, friendly drive-ins, fraternities and college dorms. The times they were a changin'!! Still are.

The pink Mustang? Mike and I turned it over to Rusty in perfect nick so he bears the responsibility for any destruction thereof.

On our return Mike married Jamie and I went to live with them in Del Mar back by the estuary. I stayed dumped and in the dumps. They took great care of me which I repaid by testifying in court at their divorce hearing, nervously recounting how Jamie had hit mike in the nose with a vicious swing of a snow ski. The truth.

In those days divorce was not easy, you needed to have a good reason to declare incompatibility. Husband beating worked and they both thanked me.

1966, Don, Mike, Rusty and I started Surf Research, as Don said, to give us something constructive to do. Bill Engler, John Dahl, Fred and Mary Ryan, and the Lienhardts, Kathy and Cindy were co-conspirators. We toed the line for three years, with Mike inventing surf products and surf culture like a mad scientist, creating a mountain of work for ourselves, stretching into the furthest future - which was scary.

We went our separate ways after the big swells of 69 - to Ocean Pacific for Don, Kauai for Rusty, Oregon for lumberjack Mike, and me and Bill to Australia. Four more Netflix episodes of incredible adventures.

We are all still effortlessly friends. Kind of brain-alive and happy to be so. The ageing bodies tag along but don't take frontal lobe orders as well as they did in the 60's. Please drink with those of us whom blindly devoted their lives to our despot of kings. It’s a great ride. Makes love feel real. There's a lot more to say but its nap time! 

Hasta Pronto,

Rusty replied:

First of all, the 1967 Ford Mustang that Mike, Garth (Stork) and I were entrusted with was Bronze in colour, not pink. I took control after they flew back to California and proceeded back up the east coast (accident free). That particular summer (66) was a most successful surf sales safari for getting Hansen surfboards heaps of orders. And the association with Mike Doyle helped our Surf Research wax sales also. Mike was a born promoter, always awake and thinking creatively. Mike was also a ball to be with and a challenge too… We had sooooo much fun and laughs. At that time (mid to late sixties) Mike Doyle was featured in almost every surf movie there was. He was the very icon of what our surf tribe considered a pure waterman…He had been several times in the Catalina to Manhattan pier paddle race, a 32 miles marathon. We called him the Golden Eagle as his stance, overall carrying and style was so large, (6’3”) grand and regal. I was blessed to have so many special surf adventures with him. His dynamic spirit permeates our surf culture. 

Rusty Miller
Byron Bay, Australia 



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