Winner of the 1965 United States Surfing Championships, and globetrotting lead in a series of surf movies made by MacGillivrey-Freeman in the mid- and late '60s, Kahuku Golf Course's most active player, Storyteller, Builder, Coors Light Drinker, Commercial Fisherman, Shaper of Surfboards for Robert August Surfboards including the Wingnut Model, and most recently his own private label, Original Duke Kahanamoku Invitee (1965), and 2009 Surfing Walk of Fame Inductee.
Martinson has lived on his Pupukea beachfront property with his wife Jeannie for the last 50 years.
Mark Martinson was born and raised in Long Beach, the son of a mechanic and stock-car racer father, and began surfing at age 10. Six years later he placed runner-up in the 1962 West Coast Championships; in 1964 he won the United States Invitational, and in 1965 he won the United States Surfing Championships.
Martinson returned from Peru in 1965 to find his U.S. Army induction notice. He deferred entry for as long as possible, then spent six years hiding from Selective Service agents. Martinson didn't quite go underground, as he continued to have a presence in the surf media, but had no phone number or mailing address and was virtually incommunicado. Much of his time from 1965 to 1969 was spent traveling with the MacGillivray-Freeman team—to Peru, Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, Portugal, and Hawaii—while filming Free and Easy (1967) Waves of Change (1970). He also starred and did stunts for Five Summer Stories (1972), and Big Wednesday (1978).
Federal agents finally caught up with Martinson in 1971; an asthmatic, he washed out of basic training after three weeks.
Martinson hit his peak as a surfer in the late '60s as one of the first California riders to fully adapt to the new short surfboards. Stocky and short, Martinson rode out of a low crouch, and occasionally pushed his turns past the breaking point at places like Sunset Beach in Hawaii as was documented by ABC's Wide World of Sports.
Photos By: Evan Hunt