028: Hayden Cox/The Surfboard That Took Over The World

Hayden Cox

“The ambition was to have every surfer in the world riding the boards”.

Episode 028! And for this instalment of the Looking Sideways podcast I headed to Sydney’s Northern Beaches to interview surfer, shaper and entrepreneur Hayden Cox.

Hayden is the founder and owner of Haydenshapes surfboards, and the man behind the most ubiquitous surfboard of recent times – the Hypto Krypto.

The Haydenshapes flagship store in Mona Vale. Photo: Boog

If you’re a surfer, chances are you either own one of these boards or are well used to seeing them at your local break – making Hayden one of the most quietly influential presences in modern surfing.

In December 2017, I visited Hayden at his Mona Vale HQ to get the lowdown on his life and career, and to find out exactly how he turned Haydenshapes into one of surfing’s most notorious brands.

Hayden with his wife and partner Danielle

Among the highlights:

  • Playing the long game – how Hayden’s ambition was there from the start
  • Turning near bankruptcy into a positive learning experience.
  • Hayden on how he designed the Hypto Krypto.
  • What the future holds for Hayden and the brand.

This is the first part of my planned Aussie omnibus featuring legendary members of the Sydney surf community, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, huge thanks to Hayden and Dainelle for joining me on the show and for being so welcoming. I had a blast. Hope you enjoy it too.

If you only have five minutes…

Listen to this section - Hayden on how his ambitions were there from the start.

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Show Notes

  • At the Hayden Shapes HQ – the significance of Darley Street.
  • Surfing from the age of 4.
  • Early surf years.
  • Brookvale as a hub of Aussie surf culture.
  • Biggie absconds.
  • Hayden talks me through the Holy Grail.
  • The problem solving aspect of shaping surfboards.
  • Traditional shaping and the modern machine-based approach.
  • How Hayden sets himself a brief when shaping a board.
  • 1 to 2 years from conception to market.
  • The Hypo Krypto – the genesis.
  • “I originally designed the Hypto Krypto for myself.”
  • The idea behind combining a rounded pintail with classic SoCal single fin-style shape.
  • Refining the shape by tweaking the rail-line.
  • How the original Hypto guinea pig – Craig Anderson – didn’t surf it for a year.
  • Craig’s first Hypto experiences.
  • “I always had it in mind that it would be for riding open faces.”
  • Quiksilver Moments – G-Land.
  • Serendipitous timing for Craig and Hayden.
  • Craig at Kandui.
  • How the shape crossed over so comprehensively.
  • “It’s the versatility”.
  • The importance of the FutureFlex tech to the shape.
  • Formulating the idea for FutureFlex.
  • KISS principle.
  • How the idea developed.
  • The uniqueness of FutureFlex.
  • How the industry responded.
  • “The ambition was for every surfer in the world to be riding the boards”.
  • The over-arching business plan that led to Future Flex – finding a way of scaling surfboard shaping.
  • Other shapers that led the way.
  • How Hayden is totally self-taught and has always enjoyed taking risks.
  • The traits of stubbornness, self-belief and entrepreneurialism.
  • How the Global Financial Crisis positively changed Hayden’s perspective.
  • “What are we doing well?”
  • Choosing partnerships to solve problems and move the business forward.
  • Destroying 500 boards to maintain quality control.
  • “The biggest gamble of my career”
  • How the different threads gradually came together.
  • Hayden’s long term vision of success.
  • “I’ve tried to refine every individual process to keep variance at a minimum”.
  • The enjoyment Hayden gets from seeing people enjoy riding his boards.
  • Interacting with surfers in the water to get feedback.
  • The importance of constructive criticism.
  • Hayden’s personal board choice from the HS quiver.
  • What the future hold for HaydenShapes.
  • Working smarter, not harder.
  • The new Mona Vale factory as the hub for R&D and custom boards.
  • Hayden’s personal design project with WestPac.
  • Future HaydenShapes design projects – filling a niche for uninvented surf products.
  • “As a designer you want every product transaction you have with a customer to have value and longevity”.
  • The hefty weight of responsibility that success brings.
  • How the beginner market is changing.
  • Choosing the right boards and waves to surf as a beginner.
  • The positive state of innovation in the industry right now.
  • “I’m proudest of following my own path”.
  • Working with Danielle day to day.
  • Hayden at 70.

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