Mike Doyle story from Patrick Greene
Posted on 28 December 2018
I had a vague notion that a Legend lived up the hill, but I had not grown up knowing his exploits.
I met Mike and Jeff at the same time on the beach in Cabo as I pulled up in my Volkswagen van towing what Mike was soon to dub the “Coffin”. The coffin was full of my hard won treasure of new windsurf gear and I was there to learn. I had heard there was a crew braving the shore pound to get the spring and summer winds passing by the tip. As Mike and Jeff circled the rig I really felt as if sharks were slowly, calmly sizing me up and preparing to do god knows what. They did do something, they took me under their wings and subjected me to the same hazing that they lovingly reserve for each other, they did each tell me stories about the other where they were always the hero, and they did show me a fierceness that I had not known. I did get up the courage to make it out through the shore pound, and it was really a case of being inspired and following, but what was even more meaningful for me was to get to know Mike as an inventor, teacher and adventurer.
As we searched for wind and waves we covered long distances and on those drives there was lots of time to talk. Mike always takes apart surfing, sailing and boarding and explains the forces, positions and angles. He speaks the language of inquiry, of design and refinement. I came to appreciate that Mike had deep knowledge about what we were doing and that he is always working to understand more. Mike is above all curious.
Hence Mike the child. When Mike and I visited his Mom Mary at her home in Fallbrook it did not take long before Mary had out the photo albums of their life. Mary was the keeper of the keys and in that moment I saw the bond between Mike and Mary- how much she loved and cared for Mike and how proud he made her. Mary showed me the picture of Mike dwarfed by his first board and when I saw that photo I was startled by how much I felt like I knew him. It was then that I realized how much Mike carried into adulthood his curiosity, his desire to take on big and dangerous things, his vulnerability and his abiding belief in himself- his knowledge that he is strong and can prove himself.
Mike takes on the forces of nature and is always refining his stance. Mike showed me how to shape a board, and we built the first boards that did not snap if we flat landed after sailing off the backs of open ocean swells. Mike talks about foam and fiberglass like they are his medium. He understands the machines you use to shape and form them and Mike marries an artist’s sense to bringing those materials into pleasing forms.
Mike built a house on the back of the Fallbrook property, he actually designed it, framed it and finished it, so now I could talk construction with him! In that house Mike played me a video of him mono skiing the fall line on a killer powder day on a board he invented (wtf). Obviously in full bromance mode, I found myself asking, “What can’t this guy do?”.
Mike talked me into taking up carving. He gave me a bag of boards and a pair of boots and sent me off to Big Bear. He told me the forces that I would be experiencing and the proper stance and position, and most of all the feeling that I was looking for. I got a few turns in but did not know what it was all about until I visited him at the Milk. I got to see Mike the hardcore dawn patrol first in line carver, got to see the power and flow of his turns and got to see how he treated the run as a wave. Etched in my mind is following him across an uneventful slope as he made a couple of check turns only to then hit a full slashing off the lip. Mike yet again was talking about fractions of inches in stance and position, of angles and initiation and speaking the language of inquiry and refinement and telling his truth.
I was talking the other day to Mike about an electric motor I’m making for a float boat and immediately we were talking angles and materials and how to build. Not many people speak that language and amongst them in my life Mike is the poet laureate. I am thankful for Mike, his curiosity and insight and how freely he shares his ideas and his stoke.
I love you Michael,