Finless pioneer Derek Hynd on why he paddled out to J-Bay an hour after the attack on Mick…
The Newport, Sydney, surfer and former world number seven, Derek Hynd, is one of the most wonderful and interesting gypsies you’ll ever meet.
On Monday, a little under an hour after Mick was wrestled by a Great White shark, DH paddled out for a handful of uncrowded gems on one of his giant finless craft.
What drives a fellow to sink himself into the lair of a frisky White? I had to ask!
BeachGrit: Did you have a very good look at the lineup for fins?
DH: No point looking for fins.They’re everywhere beneath. My erstwhile host here, Merv Herscovitz, got the shits about Point being empty (the bottom section). Merv’s in his mid 60’s and from Zimbabwe. Very unique brand of people regardless of colour, these Zimbabweans. Their humour seems to be the best anywhere. So from where his house is it’s a straight view all the way up the line from Albatross. In his particular way he said buggerit I’m out there. I guess I got suited up a fair bit earlier once he said that and started the long paddle to Supers.
BeachGrit: How did you rationalise paddling out?
DH: I didn’t. Not trying to knock on Fate’s door here but I’ve seen encounters and attacks here going back to the mid 80’s. I’d like to think I know the bay, currents, traditional feeding patterns. Inquisition by shark on man was over.
BeachGrit: Were you thrilled by Mick and Julian’s reactions?
DH: I’d like to just say “Australian” but there’s a South African precedent. Sterling efforts for a few reasons. Julian appeared to be onto the situation of his friend a fair few seconds before the skis. No disrespect to the ski guys. You can’t be looking everywhere at once but perhaps with Julian his focus was always going to be Mick on the paddle back out. Kelly seemed to put a lot of it into perspective in an interview – about who Mick was and why the outcome was mild. Mick seemed to measure the situation really well until the thwack to the side of the head second time around. Julian’s reaction remains more of a worry for me than Mick’s because he had that slowed down time aspect of paddling towards a probable worst case situation of a friend not just rival. I hope he gets over that bit sooner rather than later. At East London, Nahoon, it was Andrew Carter’s friend Bruce Corby being attacked and unfortunately killed – and he was also badly attacked in the process of charging to the rescue. Julian has every right to remain tender about it for a few years. Close witnesses to attacks can suffer worse through adrenaline overload than victims in close call situations like these.
BeachGrit: Would you call Mick’s response courage or self-preservation and is there a difference?
DH: Big difference for a bloke like Mick. Mick’s a champion in every sense of the vernacular. Super fast reaction times. Courage to be controlled under pressure, second to second. That’s his way. Self fucken preservation though once the State of Origin turned unmanageable about six seconds in.
BeachGrit: Have you had any visits from sharks at J-Bay?
BeachGrit: You live in Byron or J-Bay. Both White haunts. Do you love them like so many people or are they just a big fish to you?
DH: Hardly big fish. Don’t love them. I revere their ancient power, capacities, instincts. I went to Byron with my family and my older brother Rod’s Avalon friends as a boy when the abattoir was state of the art blood and guts effluent. I like surfing the Main Beach stretch far less than J-Bay because of it, though it was yolks ago. The genes of these great beasts… innate habits clustered around the chum fest.
BeachGrit: How do you think you would react if hit by a shark, and you think about it?
DH: I’d like to think I’d be as initially calm as Mick. I prefer not to think about it, rather be conscious of smooth movement.
BeachGrit: Are sharks in your night thoughts, when you lay in bed?
DH: Land sharks, not sea sharks.
BeachGrit: Was the Mick hit the best thing you’ve seen in the pro surfing biz?
DH: Nope, Simon’s first wave at Big Bells ’81. No question. To see it live was like watching the invention of the wheel.
This is DH in all his J-Bay finery and, below this clip, DH surfing an hour after Mick was hit.