Derek Hynd’s irreplaceable collection of surfboards, including the famed Litmus board, have been destroyed by fire. Hynd’s off-grid house that he shares with his son Lochlan at Myocum, located in the hinterland near Byron Bay, was burned to the ground on Tuesday night. 

In addition to the 40-odd surfboards, Hynd also lost a collection of writings and surf memorabilia that cover the last four decades. Those papers and items cover the life one of surfing’s most influential and original thinkers, and therefore chart the history of surfing itself. Luckily neither Derek or Lochlan suffered any injuries, though a beloved neighbour’s dog did die in the blaze.  

A GoFundMe page has been set up by a friend to help Hynd get back on track in the short term. The page says that, “Derek lives simply and is reflecting on how little he really needs despite this devastating loss to family and the general archives of international surfing. He is completely off grid and does not like asking for anything, but right now needs basic help from friends and community.” 

The aim is to replace a water tank that melted in the fire, as well as access a computer and gaming equipment that Lochlan used. A call was made for a lightweight wheelchair for a neighbour who also lost the lot on Monday night. Already a makeshift camp has been set up as Hynd sets about rebuilding the simple life he was leading. 

The loss of the surfboards however is hard to calculate, in either emotional or monetary terms. They effectively were the tattoos of Hynd’s life and several played critical roles in twisting surfing’s trajectory. 

It was Hynd for example that re-ignited the popularity of the Fish design. He had Skip Frye shape him a traditional design for J-Bay at the start of the 90s. “I couldn’t turn it. I got it down the line, it didn’t go as fast I thought it would, I thought the board had humiliated me because I had failed the test,” he said. “I knew it was about power to weight ratio. Tom Curren was in town, and no one has a better power to weight ratio than Tom, so I gave it to him.” 

The resulting footage was shown in the seminal movie The Search, released in 1992 at a time when the Kelly Slater inspired Banana Board phenomenon was in full swing, with boards going to narrower and rockier than ever before, it was Tom’s surfing on a fish that reignited interest in the design and the attitude that comes with it. 

A few years later Andrew Kidman and his film Litmus also documented this flexible attitude, and that movie also played a big part in opening surfers’ minds to not just a new surfboard design, but a new way of thinking about surfing. It is thought that the board that featured in that movie was destroyed in the fire.