Stab Magazine | Icon of The Sport Mike Doyle Has Gracefully Kicked Out At 78

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Icon of The Sport Mike Doyle Has Gracefully Kicked Out At 78

The Golden Era stylemaster, artist, and early pioneer of the soft board revolution is gone.

news // May 1, 2019
Words by Jake Howard
Reading Time: 2 minutes

All you Beater Board-riding, Wave Storm-worshipping soft top riders, tip one back tonight for “Tiki” Mike Doyle 

A surfer’s surfer if ever there was one, Doyle gracefully kicked out in his sleep last night at home on Gringo Hill in Mexico, with his loving wife, Annie, by his side.

A prominent feature in the surf world for well over half a century, Doyle was born in 1941, and first broke the salt water seal in 1954 when he paddled out in the South Bay for the first time. It was nothing but sunny days and good times from there. 

He famously sold Kathy Kohner, aka Gidget, her first surfboard in ’56. It was a fortuitous transaction; three years later he worked as a stunt double in the Hollywood film “Gidget.”

Doyle was pretty much The Man in the ’60s, a big, powerful figure that could handle the heavy planks of the era. His starring role in the culture started when he finished third in the West Coast Surfing Championships in 1961, which set up a string of results around the world as surf contests were just starting to become a thing. He finished runner-up to Midget Farrelly at the inaugural World Surfing Championships in 1964 and won the Tandem Division of the Makaha International Champion 1963, 1964, and 1965.

He also won paddle races from Catalina to the mainland. His biggest competitive accomplishment came in 1968 when he won the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational.

Dabbling in the Shortboard Revolution with mate Nate Young, by the ’70s, Doyle’s interests took him to other thrills. He signed with Op Sunwear in 1970 and started chasing the sun forever after. He worked with Hansen Surfboards during these years and had a very popular model.

Perhaps his biggest contribution to the sport was the development of the first soft-board, with friend Tom Morey in 1974. He was the first to popularize the foamy craft and surf schools around the world should be forever indebted. Up and down California soft boards are still often referred to simply as “Doyles.”

And when surfing’s A-listers split for the mountains, skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho, Doyle was right there on the slopes with them. He’s credited with inventing the Monoski, an early precursor to the snowboard.


Doyle was a talented painter and musician and held a BA in Biology along with his minor in Arts History. 

In a move every surfer has considered at one time or another, when shit got too hectic in the US, Doyle kicked out, and in 1980 moved to San Jose Del Cabo to paint, create, surf and chill.  He maintained his solid relationships with friends around the world throughout his life. He stayed in the water all the way to the end. 

He was inducted into the Surfers Hall Of Fame 2003.

His smile and stoke will be profoundly missed. Godspeed, Mike Doyle.


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