Knowing Hayden | Part 1

Not many people may realize that Haydenshapes has been going for 20 years this year. Now aged 35, the brand started when Hayden was just 15 and still in high school. The Hypto Krypto model, a worldwide best seller since 2013 has actually been on the market for a decade. None of what Hayden’s gone on to create for himself has come easily and there were a lot of failures before successes, which he is quite candid and open about in his recent book release titled ‘New Wave Vision’ – a first hand chronicle of his two decade journey of building something from scratch.

“New Wave Vision is a book about creating something. It is experience driven, not a how-to, without glossing over the harsh realities, lessons and challenges faced when backing yourself and building from the ground up”.

In fact, Hayden and his brand nearly went bankrupt after the GFC back in 2008. He told himself that if he couldn’t make it work by the time he was 30, he might need to consider a career change. Fortunately for him and the surfing world, things took a turn for the better and in a last bid effort to resuscitate what at that point was nearly 14 years of blood sweat and tears, he signed a distribution deal that went on to launch his business globally, just 3 months after his 29th birthday.

And he still owns 100% of his company, which means all of the decisions - both creative and business - are his and his alone. Very few leading brands in the surfboard design and manufacturing space, if any can make that same claim today. Unlike the majority, Haydenshapes has managed to resist any corporate funding or major outside investment, and that speaks volumes for the values and integrity of the business. Building something brick by brick and on your own terms is not just a thing of the past.

Then came innovation and the birth of FutureFlex carbon rail surfboard tech in 2007. Tom Carroll was the first person to road test the technology, even before Hayden rode it himself. As a grom, he saw Tom on the beach in Newport, Australia and ran over and introduced himself. They’ve been friends ever since.

“As one of the world’s best surfers who is able to articulate the feeling of a surfboard better than anyone I know, it was crucial to have feedback that wasn’t clouded by bias. Having Tom road test it was a key factor in the design tweaks that followed. I was very close to it, obviously. It still needed work, but the underlying ‘wow’ feeling was there and I knew was onto something. That’s what I felt when I rode it, instantly.”

Words: Brad Bricknell
Photos: Chris Wilson of Prospect Refuge for Highsnobiety