Mike Doyle passes away in his sleep at 78

May 1, 2019 | Surfing
Mike Doyle: a waterman that never lost his iconic smile | Photo: Doyle Surfboards

Legendary surfer Mike Doyle passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Gringo Hill, San José del Cabo, Mexico.

He was one of the first watermen of the modern era, and was struggling with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The regular-footer from Leucadia, California finished runner-up in the inaugural ISF World Surfing Championships, held in Manly Beach, in Australia. He lost the sport's first world title to Midget Farrelly.

But Doyle was more than just a competent surfer. He was an all-around waterman, always involved in big wave surfing, paddleboarding, and even tandem surfing.

His unique wave riding style was an inspiration to all American surfers of the 1960s.

Mike Doyle was born in Los Angeles, in 1941, and started surfing as a goofy-footer, aged 13, at Manhattan Beach. In 1956, he switched to regular-footed mode at Malibu.

In 1956, the young rider worked as a stunt double on "Gidget," the film that changed the mainstream perception of surfing.

Mike Doyle: he lived to surf and surfed to live | Photo: Doyle Surfboards

A Life Dedicated to Surfing

By the turn of the decade, Doyle was already learning to shape surfboards with Dale Velzy and Greg Noll.

The blond, tall surfer won several regional and national tandem surfing, paddleboarding and surfing titles - the 1968 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational is one of them - and secured various podium finishes at other relevant surfing events.

By the mid-1960s, Doyle was widely considered one of the best surfers on the planet. Why? Probably because he really enjoyed what he was doing, and got good at it.

"Live to surf, surf to live," he once said.

His entrepreneurial spirit led to the creation of the surf wax, surfboard shaping, and the promotion of the monoski, which eventually gave birth to the snowboard.

In 1974, Mike teamed up with Tom Morey to create the first soft surfboard. The duo used the same materials featured in the early Morey Boogie bodyboards.

In 2013, Mike Doyle was inducted into both the Surfer's Hall of Fame (2003, Huntington Beach) and Surfer's Walk of Fame (2013, Hermosa Beach).

His surfing skills can be seen in "Surf Safari," "Barefoot Adventure," "Cavalcade of Surf," "Strictly Hot," and "Golden Breed."

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