By Tracey Engelking
Born and raised almost exclusively at the beach, Joyce Hoffman started surfing around the age of 12 when her family moved to Beach Road in Capo Beach into the now iconic Hoffman house. Her father, king of the aloha print fabric, Walter Hoffman, was a waterman’s waterman. When she started the staggering competition phase of her life, she quickly earned a reputation for being the most mentally and physically fit competitor of her time. She trained as much as six hours a day. She swam, ran, and paddled too, all to make her ready to compete.
Throughout the ‘60s, Hoffman dominated women’s surfing. She won three United States Surfing Championships in a row and took a fourth title in 1971. She also won the Women’s Surfing title in ‘66 & ‘67. But it wasn’t just the championships she won that cemented her as a legendary surfer. She also raised the bar of women’s surfing to show that it could be on par with the men.
With her discipline and unbreakable mental game, Hoffman took to the waters of the notorious Banzai Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore. She took to Pipe like a fish to water, raising the bar for women’s surfing and demonstrating to female surfers across the globe that there was no barrier that they couldn’t be overcome with enough training and determination. She also earned her place at Sunset Beach too.
Through her illustrious career, she earned more than a few endorsements and achievements, most famously with the sports car brand Triumph for their “Spitfire” model. The company went so far as to make sure whatever country Hoffman’s feet were in, she was driving a Spitfire convertible with her Hobie Surfboard sticking out the back. They had them shipped all over the globe for her. No other surfer of the era, male or female, traveled in that kind of style.
Hoffman was named the LA Times Woman of the year in 1965. Sports Illustrated profiled her, she landed the cover of Life Magazine and Hobie even gave her her own signature surfboard model—the first ever for a female surfer.
Hoffman’s drive, determination, work ethic and mental game continues to inspire generations of female surfers.