Surf Till 100 Blog Entry 2

"The Thrill of Victory ..."

Jeff Hakman



The Thrill of Victory

The Agony of Defeat

The Heart of a Champion

​By Jeff Hakman










“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

Jacques Yves Cousteau




We all have memories of our childhood playgrounds.  They may be the community park, school grounds, and a field beyond the house, an inner city basketball court, or even a pool.


Playgrounds have sounds, playgrounds have vibe to them, always fun, always with friends. I was fortunate for my playground was the beach and the ocean.


I grew up in southern California surfing and diving at a young age in the south Santa Monica bay area, learning to surf in the uncrowded waves of Palos Verdes Cove on a very heavy and archaic surfboard and then my adventuring ocean loving family moved to Hawaii when I was ten years old.  I was raised in and around the ocean from birth. The smell, the taste, the color, and the feel of the ocean has always been a part of me.


 There were periods of time in my life when I foolishly thought I didn’t need the ocean and it wasn’t a priority.  During these times, my life spiraled out of control. I have had many challenges, like most people, but today I know how important the ocean has been to guide me through life’s challenges, and without it, I would be nothing, and probably dead.





  Photo - Harry, Jeff and Doris Hakman 1952 Palos Verdes, California


The Journey and Mentors


 I would like to give you a brief history of my life in the hope that it clarifies my journey, and why I am so stoked of where I have ended up today.  I owe a great deal to my parents for starting me out in the right direction. They were energetic, free, post war California spirits that loved the ocean, and I was along for the ride!


 My young ocean experiences were many.  If it wasn’t blasting to Catalina Island with my father, at the age of four years old in a single engine, sixteen foot, open skiff at 5:00 AM to dive for yellow tail fish, or surfing twenty foot plus Waimea Bay at fourteen years old when I was only and 4’ 10” and weighed 90 lbs., or winning the first Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship  when I was seventeen years old in 1965, or maybe even co-founding  Quiksilver in 1976, it didn’t matter, it was all about the ocean! 



Photo - Jeff Waimea Bay, Age 14

Wide World of Sports


Sounds pretty good!  Well, it was! I had a dream life, especially on the north shore of Oahu in the sixties and early seventies. I was the youngest Surfer ever interviewed on National Television on “The Wide World of Sports” show (with their tagline “The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat”) at the1961 Makaha Surfing Championship when I was 12 years old and again in 1965 after winning the Inaugural Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championships.



Wide World of Sports Television Show - 1961 Makaha Surfing Championship -Jeff, 12 Years Old

 I was part of an original pioneering culture, made up of like-minded people that loved and respected everything about the ocean.  


In the culture of North Shore Surfers, that I was a part of, the importance of health was understood. Health was a primary necessity to surf and dive all the time. I don’t remember anyone being over weight.


Oceanographer Ricky Grigg was a good friend of my fathers and a big influence on me regarding health and fitness and love for the ocean.  He had a small house right on the point of Sunset beach, and I would wax up my board on his lawn just in front of his house as Ricky often stood over me commenting on the wave conditions and the rides and wipe outs that our fellow surfers were getting. Ricky had the most amazing and captivating photos of big waves in black and white on his walls and some very early Honolua Bay, Maui, Hawaii water shots taken by Ron Church in 1963.

As I gazed at them I transported myself into another world that soon became my playground.


Photo - Jeff  (Mr. Sunset) preparing for first go out at Sunset Beach at Ricky Grigg's House,

1962 at 13 years of age

This was a magical period in my life as the now legends of that time took me under their wing, shared their passion, and waterman expertise.


But there was more than mental and physical skills that my mentors shared with me. The Duke showed  his humility, his presence and pure emotion of Aloha to me. I learned how to be relaxed and totally at ease in the ocean from Buffalo Keaulana . Conrad Cunha taught me Patience as he would sit in the lineup letting all but the most perfect waves pass by which he was sure to get. Paul Strauch added the skill of “Timing”, both Conrad and Paul were great examples of exercising the ability to stay in the moment to get the best waves that nature had to offer. Then there was Joey Cabell, “The Fox” . He was a Master of finding the best line on a wave, trimming and using the edges of his board to get maximum speed to make waves that were impossible for other good Surfers and he was also a model of good health as well as a great ocean exploring sailor. Then there was Dick Brewer, Dick took me under his wing also and always made sure I had the best Boards when his boards, like now, were in high demand.


Photo - Jeff with first Dick Brewer  Big Wave Surfboard



These watermen along with Fred Van Dyke, Peter Cole, Jose Angel, Ricky Grigg, and Buzzy Trent were all my mentors and legendary big wave Surfers and Divers who passionately loved the ocean and everything about it, this was the culture that I was surrounded by, a culture centered on love of the ocean and the art of Surfing and they graciously shared this passion with me a little 12 year old who wanted to be like them.


  I felt blessed and I had total respect for these incredible people that had touched my heart and I was extremely grateful for the knowledge that they shared with me on my journey to become a Champion.


Like anything in life it isn’t easy to accomplish great things and while I had the guidance of my mentors , I still had to deal with my mind and the messages of doubt and fear that one must contend with on the journey that I was on to be as great as they were.


Photo - The First Duke Kahanamoku Surfing Championship

Duke, Jeff, Felipe Pomar, Paul Strauch Chubby Mitchell (with Hat),

John Peck, Buzzy Trent (Sun Glasses), Greg Noll (striped trunks)

What really gave me the edge to maintain the balance of heart and mind was the culture I had become a part of, a culture of using your mind to make smart decisions and your heart to be in a state of humility and gratitude while exercising patience when facing challenges. These were some of the factors that were beginning to help me develop the heart of a Champion.


At times, they probably wondered what I a 4’7” 75 lbs. 13 years old was doing out there when the waves were huge, but Ricky and Peter were also my school teachers, and showed me where to sit and take off on waves. I even felt like they would save me, if I found myself in a bad position as we always kept an eye on each other when the Surf got huge.


In those days we had carpools to travel to school, and I would talk to Peter and Fred for hours about surfing on the way into town with questions about different surf break line ups, indicators, boards, people, health and fitness, mindset, competition, challenges and so much more to help me grow into being a Champion.  


Felipe Pomar was a young Peruvian surfer out at Sunset Beach all the time too!  He was always out at Sunset with Bobby Cloutier.  Felipe was one of those guys who would always be going for the biggest and deepest waves. I admired his commitment.


Surfing big waves back then was for pioneers! Big Wave surfing was new and hadn’t been done that much, and of course there were no leg ropes, skis, vests, or water patrol for safety.  Many days you had to swim three or four times a session, it took probably forty minutes around the block each time.  Big wave surfing was my passion and challenge and it made me feel so alive!


Photo - The Final's of the 1st Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship,

Sunset Beach

A Major Influence


One of the newer generation’s best surfers in the early sixties, was Paul Strauch Jr.  I would sit on the beach at Sunset for hours and try to emulate his surfing.  He was as polished as you get, and could surf exactly the same regular or Goofy. I’m mentioning Paul, because he influenced my surfing more than anyone. In fact, it’s because of Paul, that I won the first Duke meet.  He had a move he became known for, “the Strauch stretch five” or “cheater five”.  It was his move and he was the best at it.  I copied and perfected it.  Later, I used it in the first Duke Meet, the conditions were ideal for it, and I won! Paul was elegant, and taught me things in the water and out of the water.  Handing knowledge down to the younger generation is a Hawaiian cultural strength and Paul and my mentors did it well!



The Thrill of Victory


Professional Surfing


Late sixties, early seventies professional surfing started to bloom, and winning contests and performance on lighter faster equipment became my challenge.  I became a Champion winning most of the major events, over a ten year period including three Duke contests, I was the first non-Australian to win  the1976’ Bells Beach contest in Australia, the first Pipeline Masters, and many more.   So I did that, now what I asked myself? What is my next big challenge? 



( Jeff - the First Pipeline Masters Champion)


Three Time Duke Champion


Photo - Sunset Beach

The Agony of Defeat


Around this time, there was no “real money” in surfing compared to now, so I thought I should start a business.  In 1976, after winning Bells, I got the license for Quiksilver, I left my Island lifestyle and friends and moved to Southern California and with partner Bob Mcknight we started Quiksilver Inc. manufacturing and selling Board Shorts   Now during the next five years we worked hard, gained a tremendous amount of business and marketing experience, developed a strong network of like-minded people and built up Quiksilver.


 I was no longer in my passionate, ocean loving environment and culture of humility and gratitude I had grown up in. Although the business was going extremely well, I wasn’t! I was experiencing a mental disharmony. A stormy battle between my heart and mind began and I made some bad choice's to relieve my pain. Substance abuse  eventually took its toll on me physically, mentally, and financially!


If it was not for my very compassionate wife, team mates, friends and the siren call of the ocean, I would probably not be writing this today.


Photo - Jeff and son Ryan, Australia

I left California with my wife Cherie and new baby boy Ryan and moved to Australia where I worked as a shop attendant for Paul Nielsen at Brothers Neilsen Surf Shop on the Gold coast.  This went on for a year, and I was surfing all the time and I was happy with my Australian Surfing mates and the beautiful gold coast waves.  Then by the grace of God, out of the blue, I had a second opportunity to start Quiksilver in France.  Did I think Twice? Are you kidding? Let’s go!


 It was very difficult starting over again in the European market in the beginning, but then with a lot of hard work and a very supportive and committed team, sharing the values of family, sincere ongoing relationships and warm friendships, across Europe, the company started to boom and we helped in the expansion of the sport of Amateur and Professional Surfing and the development of young Surfers throughout the coastal regions of Europe!


 It was a great time with a great team that really was making a difference in the lives of many people on many different levels.


Photo - First Quiksilver Europe Office, Jeff and Harry Hodge, first Quiksilver Europe CEO , 1984


You would think that I would be the happiest guy on earth, right?


But for some reason I wasn’t. Something was missing and there was a challenge going on between my heart and my mind and it really hurt.


The Heart of a Champion


 Throughout my life I have taken on great challenges and Quiksilver Europe was one of them that would really test me. With the stress of corporate culture in a growing, publicly traded company, loss of connection with the ocean environment and many years away from my Island lifestyle, aspects of life that I truly valued, I found myself sliding down hill.


 The struggle between heart and mind was on again but with the help of many friends and especially with the loyal support of Quiksilver CEO and devoted friend Harry Hodge, I dug deep and reached for my inner strength buried in the deepest realms of my heart.


The struggle of heart and mind working together was the biggest single challenge of my life not giant, life threatening waves and honestly it took more courage, more commitment and perseverance than riding the biggest wave I have ever ridden.


If I had not started to develop the Heart of a Champion in my formative years,, and the ability to go deep, like so many of my friends , I do not think that I would be here today.


 For the next twenty years, I found a balance between holding down business and surfing.  For the most part, I was comfortable, and in a position that most people would call good or successful, but I was searching for something, some challenge, something that would give me that feeling of being a champion in everyday life. 


I think a lot of people are in this same position, missing that feeling of being a Champion in life.


We go  into the office, live in a comfort zone, watching the clock at work, overweight, and in your heart, not passionate  or loving what we are doing and honestly knowing we should be doing something else, intentionally, with a sense of purpose, something that to make us feel alive!


 Surrounding yourself with people that have the same values you respect is so important.  This I learned at an early age from my Surfing mentors, so learn from my challenge ….. Stay in a Healthy culture!!!


Photo -  Jeff Surfing Roti, Indonesia,  2017


In 2017 I was in Rote surfing, and ran into my long time surfing friend Felipe Pomar, which I had known and surfed with many times in the 60”s. I was about 68 yrs. old and Felipe was 73 yrs. old.  I was surfing pretty well because I had just come off a full season in Hawaii. The same as Felipe, but Felipe was paddling everywhere non stop!   He looked very fit and had the stamina of a twenty year old.  I was Impressed! 


Upon returning to Hawaii, I sat down with Felipe and asked what was going on?  Felipe has always been very conscience of his health, and definitely has not taken the” detours” I have. He explained his regime and his goals, one being to surf till 100. I laughed and thought that it was ridiculous, but after Felipe’s extreme conviction, I began to change my mind set, and ask why not? 


Jeff Surfing Kauai, 2018

Mind Shift


Something happened to me at that moment!  Something changed-something shifted.   

Felipe introduced me to his good friend Tom Woods (who definitely didn’t look 71 yrs. old) Tom was very knowledgeable about functional medicine, anti-aging, mindset and heart intelligence.


 There was so much interesting energy I was feeling, and applicable information I was learning, from Felipe and Tom, I was just totally stoked.  


The partnership we formed was natural, the culture we began to create was based on an understanding that:


You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.


Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him.


Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.


They who have conquered doubt and fear have conquered failure.

  A man is not rightly conditioned until he is a happy, healthy, and prosperous being; and happiness, health, and prosperity are the result of a harmonious adjustment of the inner with the outer of the man with his surroundings.


All concepts that we had learned from the author James Allen and from this point Surf till100 was set up.  


Team Surf Till 100


Felipe Pomar, Tom Woods, Jeff Hakman



Now I have come full circle, I have tried everything and Surfing is definitely the best.


 The Battle between my Heart and Mind has ended and with each new day I sense more harmony. I’m back in my culture, back in a healthy environment, surfing big waves in Hawaii, where I belong and occasionally helping the Quiksilver Team that gave me support when I needed it!  


The ultimate challenge for me now is to follow my personal growth plan,  stay healthy, be grateful, surf as long as possible, and “pay it forward” ,intentionally, with all that I have learned to make this world a better place for us all.  I may not end up beating time and make it to 100 surfing, but what a great goal!



After all in 1964 I was probably the youngest surfer to ever surf Waimea Bay, why not also be the oldest?


 Thanks to Felipe, Tom, my loving family, and some of the secrets of a healthy life, found in, it just might be possible!


 You know in the next twenty to thirty years, surfing to the age of 100 and past will not be a phenomenon.  People are living longer, and medical advancements are moving fast now-very fast.


Photo - Jeff,  Kauai, Hawaii - 2018



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