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Classic Robert August Style - image from Surfline

Robert August

For Robert August, you’d have to wonder if it’s been all downhill since that fateful day in the Indian Ocean back in 1963. After all, The Endless Summer’s Cape St. Francis segment has become a sort of shorthand for the perfect surfing experience, surviving nearly 40 years of changing tastes with equal amounts of aplomb and naivete.

Even the most jaded modern surfers catch their breath when they stumble onto those jade cylinders rolling through at Bruce’s Beauties.

One of filmmaker Bruce Brown’s strokes of genius was found in his casting. Mike Hynson, a streetwise sharp from San Diego, played the Golden Boy with an edge. But it was the equally handsome dark-haired kid from Seal Beach who audiences really connected with. Robert August represented the everyman. He came off well mannered, well prepared, and well scrubbed, but always with a wry grin… like he was recalling some off-color joke.

When it came to surfing, August performed with a competent style that let you know that this was no average 18-year-old. Robert’s surfing showed restraint and maturity; a drop-knee here, a nose ride there, but he seemed to surf waves like one act plays—a self-contained work from take-off to kickout. Rolling his stone-flat 10’4" Jacobs into trim, the skinny kid who dreamed of becoming a dentist laid down tracks that many contemporary longboard surfers would kill for.

While Endless Summer achieved worldwide acclaim, August’s life didn’t change all that much. In the early ’60s, million-dollar endorsement deals had yet to be invented, and August pursued a living as a surfboard salesman, then as a shaper. August managed to carve out a long-standing niche in the board market and today his label is one of the most successful in the business.

When not shaping stateside, August spends time at his home in Costa Rica and his own personal Endless Summer.


- Scott Hulet extract from Surf History

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