Girls, Don't Panic!

Joyce Hoffman. Photo: Dick Graham
Linda Merrill, 1963
Surfboard ad, 1966
Joey Hamasaki, 1966
North Shore, mid-'60s. Photo: Ron Church

A smooth-surfing Honolulu tomboy named Joey Hamasaki had her own signature model surfboard, as did Joyce Hoffman—both were marketplace failures. Still, women’s surfing posted a few gains during the boom. San Diego high school sophomore Linda Benson won the Makaha International in 1959, doing spinners and cutbacks like a wind-up toy, and later that year she was featured in Bud Browne's Cat on a Hot Foam Board. In 1964, Orange County surfer Linda Merrill became the first women to make the cover...

Joyce Hoffman was was blond and attractive, with a radiant smile—and the deadliest competitive drive in all of surfing:  “My idea of having fun,” she once said, “is being the best at something and winning all the time.”