International Surfboard Builders Hall Of Fame Inductee Details
For: Hayden Kenny
Inductee Name
Hayden Kenny
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Inductee Bio

When I arrived in Australia in 1970, I had a box of Mac dungaree workshirts with Yater Surfboards screenprinted on the back and a list of names and addresses for the recipients from Renny himself: A better letter in introduction in the world of surfing you will never find. First on that list was Midget Farrelly, second: Bob Cooper whom I"d known for years and the third name on the list was Hayden Kenny. "You`ll really like Hayden," Renny had said at the time, "A real hardcore waterman."When I made my first trip to the Sunshine Coast, to have a look at Noosa Heads, I arrived at Alexandra Headland just after sunrise. It was a quick wax up and I was into it for a session before breakfast and my delivery mission with the Yater workshirt. On the way out this guy took off on an unbelievably short Merv Larsen surf ski with seatbelt and all - and he was ripping. Spinners on the face, over the falls backwards before spinning around and hooking that paddle into the bottom to squirt a savage bottom turn back up into the curl. Before I"d even gotten out the back he"d ridden the wave all the way to the beach, pulled-out and passed me on my sub-six foot down railer I"d built at Cooper"s. "I"ve never seen a surfboard like that," he commented as he passed. "I"ve seen a surf ski, like that," I replied, stunned to see one of Merv"s latest skis here. "Where?" he asked. "My buddy Merv Larson," I replied, "And that looks like one of his." "Wow, I"ve just returned from California with this one." We introduced ourselves and I was stoked to be able to deliver another of Renny"s gift shirts. We had breakfast, swapped phone numbers and I promised to call in every time I was in the area beginning friendship that has endured for 47 years.Hayden is one of the most high positive-energy guys I"ve ever known. Clean cut, "Chesty Bond" handsome and a disarming million-kilowatt smile, surf/savy, competitive, strong, disciplined, making him a success in every field of endeavor. Always a fan of that breed of waterman that"s not just good but great in the water and then great at whatever he turns a hand to; I watched as his surfboard building business grew from the epitome of sound innovative design and quality that eventually spawned the professional racing paddle boards and high-tech composite skis of today. It was always interesting to see the latest Hayden which instantly made the rest of the field look absolutely pedestrian. In racing circles it was kinda like the "Mini" in rallying in the late sixties, "The only way to beat one - Was to drive one." The following year every paddle board or ski in the race was a Hayden. And all the while he maintained his surfboard roots training some of the world"s greatest shapers. If you were to visit any country in the world that has a life saving, you would find a Hayden - And all this from the tiny little beachside hamlet of Alexandra Headland. As I was using the same technology in my PanAm open ocean racing and slalom sailboards, we kept in touch.Hayden Kenny was born in Granville, Queensland in 1936 just outside of Maryborough. From very early on he had a deep and abiding affinity with the ocean and on New Years Eve 1956 received his Bronze Medallion at Alexandra Headland that marked the beginning of a remarkable career in surfing and the lifesaving movement. His first surfboard was a Gordon Woods.Hayden built his first surfboard in his parent"s garage in 1957. By the early sixties, his prowess as a surfer and shaper became so widespread he was prompted to move to Alexandra Headland where he opened up Hayden Surfboards which was comprised of a two stand glassing room, shaping was done in the hallway, sanding out the back and a small showroom out the front. During those early years he and the legendary Algie Grudd built up the Hayden name. Soon he had some of the world"s most hard-core surfers working for him. Bob Cooper from Yater Surfboards in California was the first international which subsequently attracted Reynolds Yater to sample the waves of Noosa Heads and stayed to shape a few boards as well as the inimitable George Greenough who brought a balsa kneeboard he"d built at Ike Surfboards in Santa Barbara that he soon "took to" with a sander, blowing away the deck to produce his famous first "Spoon" - The board that so impressed the Australians that they immediately started whacking feet off the lengths of their boards and fitting Greenough fins to them.As Noosa became better known, he would employ Bob McTavish, Ken Adler, Russell Hughes, Kevin Platt, Kevin Brennan and a host of other notables from the era. Soon Hayden"s popularity had reached such notoriety that "Bonzer" Bob Conneely opened up a retail shop in Bondi Beach in Sydney to bring Hayden to the metropolitan masses of Sydney.Hayden"s success and longevity was based on Hayden"s tremendous surf energy (Australia"s first Iron Man in 1966) advanced thinking, superlative quality and good old-fashioned work ethic.Hayden recalls surfing Noosa alone and scary for lack of company, "Five people on the street was a crowd in Noosa, back in the day."As the Sunshine Coast became more popular and matured Hayden Surfboards grew and spawned Hayden Surf Craft specializing in designing lighter and faster "Hi-tech" racing and rescue paddleboards and would become world leader.And then when most men would consider retiring, Hayden founded the helicopter rescue service and flew as a crewman for many years. Every morning just after sunrise his yellow Westpac rescue helicopter would buzz the point were we were surfing and roll right up on it"s side so we could see his "Good morning wave". I"d often be taking the late afternoon flight to Sydney to see my grandkids and be called over for a coffee with him and his son Grant and always meet the giant waterman who"d be waiting their moment with the great man introducing me as "one of the worlds most innovative shapers". He always made me taller just for knowing him. Heck, he made everyone he ever encountered taller for just knowing him. One only need glance at some of the names who began their illustrious careers with Hayden to understand the enduring love and respect of his fellow surfers and surfboard builder in regards to a highly respected, long and stellar career.I give you Hayden Kenny, Australia"s first Ironman and one of Australia"s premier board builders.

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