After suffering from poor health for the past several months, surfing legend Phillip "Flippy" Hoffman passed away in the early morning hours of Nov. 10 at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Calif. A family member has cited complications from unspecified pulmonary issues as the cause. He was 81 years old.
Born in Glendale, Calif., in 1930, Hoffman picked up the sport at San Onofre, then quickly graduated to more harrowing conditions. He is considered to be one of the original big-wave pioneers. In 1953 Hoffman, along with surfboard designer Bob Simmons, rented a house on Sunset Point on Oahu's North Shore. It was the first "pilgrimage" of its kind, and places Hoffman and Simmons as the first surfers to winter on the North Shore. 57 years later, as evidence by the impending Triple Crown season, they're influence is still being felt to this day. Hoffman is also credited as one of the first to tempt fate on Oahu's outer reefs, going so far as to brave Kaena Point on a 16-foot spear that he and Micky Munoz designed and built.
In the late '50s Hoffman and his brother, Walter, took over the family business, Hoffman California Fabrics. They promptly became the main textile supplier to just about every surf label of the time, and solidified their place in the emerging surf industry.
The Hoffman family possesses a multitude of iconic personalities, and its impact continues to be deep and far-reaching. Flippy is survived by his brother and big-wave legend Walter, his son Marty Hoffman; Walter's daughter, world champion Joyce Hoffman; Walter's son-in-law, Herbie Fletcher (married to Dibi Hoffman); Walter's grandsons Christian and Nathan Fletcher, and great-grandson Grayson Fletcher.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to the Hoffman and Fletcher family at this time.