Rest In Power: Mark Martinson, 1947-2023
Surf world mourns the death of a true original.
It has become an all too common occurrence these days, that the surf world wakes to the sad news that one of its true originals has passed.
Today’s heartbreak — legendary Californian shaper and surfer Mark Martinson has kicked out at the age of 76.
Born in 1947, Martinson grew up in Long Beach, California. The son of a stock car racer and mechanic, he began surfing in 1957, slowly earning a reputation as one of the best and brightest young surfers of his generation, eventually winning the US Invitational in 1964 and the prestigious 1965 US Championships.
In the late 1960s, Martinson traveled the world filming for Free and Easy and Waves of Change, the iconic films of MacGillivray/Freeman which featured some of surfing’s most exotic destinations at the time in South America, Europe, and Hawaii. Martinson’s surfing during that era cemented him as one of the early California power surfers, and one of the best to transition his style seamlessly to the designs of the shortboard revolution.
After being released from Army service in Vietnam for asthma, Martinson spent the 1970s and 1980s as a commercial fisherman. In the early 1990s, Martinson saw a huge resurgence in his international surfing profile, working with Robert August of Endless Summer fame, just as the sequel was hitting theaters creating a renewed interest in 1960s designs as well as the original generation of shapers and board builders.
Splitting his time between Hawaii and California, Martinson shaped under Robert August’s Huntington Beach label, designing a handful of best selling models, while maintaining his lifestyle with his longtime partner Jeanie Martinson on the North Shore of Oahu.
In 2009, Martinson was inducted in to the Surfers Walk of Fame. For surfers who knew Martinson, he was a constant presence in Hawaii, one of those characters you looked forward to running into on the North Shore bike path, near his home between Pipeline and Sunset Beach.
“Gonna miss stopping to see ya on my way home from Pipeline bike rides,” Joel Tudor wrote. “I promise to always check in on Jeani and will forever cherish the friendship I had with you while here on earth. Love and respect eternal on your graduation into the mystic!”
Rest in Power, Mark Martinson. Below are some collected memorials.
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