SURFERS around the world have rallied behind the godfather of South African surfing – Graham “Hynesy” Hynes – after he lost everything he owned in the St Francis fire a month ago.
Left with just the clothes he had on, the energetic 83-year-old surfing coach was kitted out from head to toe in the latest beachwear as boxes of gear started arriving in the seaside resort hours after his house burnt down.
“I have got more than just a whole new wardrobe of clothes, I now have several wardrobes of new clothing,” he said.
Since then, the goodwill has not stopped at clothing, thanks to a special fund started by Surfing South Africa to raise cash to help rebuild Hynes’s house.
“The surfing community has been absolutely fantastic,” Hynes said during a whistle-stop weekend visit to Port Alfred with several junior surfers he coaches.
After a lifetime coaching and mentoring hundreds of young surfers who now live all over the world, the veteran surf shop owner said he never expected such a response to his personal plight.
“The last month has been amazing. I have reconnected with lots of long lost friends and even strangers have called with well wishes and donations.
“The fire may have robbed me of a lot of material things, but at least I still have the memories.”
Hynes, who has been staying with Darryl Staples and his surfing sons Dale and Dane, said he hoped to start rebuilding his house from the foundations up in the new year.
Besides donations, a surfing architect has also offered to redesign his house and builders have also offered to make a cut- price plan.
“All is not lost by a long shot. It is not the end of the world, but rather the start of new beginnings.”
Although he is 83, Hynes said he was still hoping to coach one more South African team before bringing his international career to an end.
While he plans to call time on globe trotting with the national team soon, he has no intentions of stopping his local coaching.
“It has given me a new lease on life. I was sitting on my backside for a year doing nothing after I sold Safari Surfboards in 2003 when I was asked to coach the Billabong team by Cheron Kraak.
“If you are coaching younger guys, you cannot be old and grumpy. It keeps me on my toes so much I feel a lot younger than 83 years old.”
The latest fire is the second time in 30 years that Hynes has lost a thatched home in St Francis Bay.
“Never again… I am going to build my next house with a tiled roof,” he said.