Hayden Cox was 15 when a broken surfboard put paid to his daily surfs on Sydney’s northern beaches.
”I didn’t have much money, so I rang one of the local board factories and asked if I could come and do some work experience,” the 32-year-old says.
”Eventually, they let me shape a board.”
And so Haydenshapes, one of the world’s fastest-growing surfboard brands, was born. The logo, with its fluid HS design, is now recognised from Israel to California, and has not changed in 18 years.
”The surf and the beach is such an iconic part of Australian culture. And the surfboard is where it all starts,” says Cox at his quiet Mona Vale headquarters. ”This is the part that makes you happy out there.”
It is also the part that catapulted Cox to global fame – in the surf world – as the youngster who took on its biggest industry players.
At 24, Cox invented FutureFlex, a patented carbon-fibre technology that strengthens surfboards from the rim. His business now produces FutureFlex boards for some of the world’s biggest surf brands, including Rusty, Quicksilver, Lost and Channel Islands.
Six years ago the self-taught board designer quietly launched the Hypto Krypto on to the Australian market, a versatile board that steadily built a loyal following.
Combined with the phenomenal career of team rider and surfing wunderkind Craig Anderson, the board hit the global market with a bang two years ago. Since then, the company has grown 400 per cent and the Hypto Krypto – nominated for board of the year by the Surf and Boardsports Industry Association – is among the world’s best-selling boards.
The design, says Danielle Foote, Cox’s fiancee, was a game changer.
Olympic snowboarder Alex ”Chumpy” Pullin, actor Chris Hemsworth and singer Cody Simpson all ride the board and Haydenshapes is in talks with Beyonce to create a custom Hypto Krypto on the back of her Drunk in Love hit.
Mentored by northern beaches surf world champion Tom Carroll, Cox still builds custom and professional boards in Mona Vale and in November opened a factory in Los Angeles, where he is now based. A third factory is located in Thailand.
Cox’s aim is to ”craft a surfboard that can be scaled up to the point where someone in Israel can buy a board that has exactly the same quality as if they had walked into Mona Vale and spoken with me directly,” he says.
His other dream is to once again surf every day, as he wanted all those years ago on the northern beaches: ”You can make money out of surfboards, but to get to the point where you are going to be a millionaire is damn challenging,” he says.