Doug Haut started surfing in Santa Cruz in 1957 -- before wetsuits, before leashes, before the university, before crowds.
In 1959 Doug split town to spend a winter surfing on the West Side at Makaha. While there, he fell in love with the powerful Hawaiian waves and easy aloha living and decided to stay awhile. He made enough money to survive by sanding boards for the once-proud Inter-Island brand. Doug also sanded many of the boards built by legendary surfer/shaper Mike Diffenderfer.
"I lived in Hawaii off and on for about six years," Doug says. "I went to school over there, too, at the University of Hawaii. Mainly I lived on the North Shore and in Honolulu. Did a lot of Honolulu surfing. Oh God, it was so good. I used to work on all the local guys' boards: Conrad Cunha, Buddy Boy...and then I started shaping over there on my own. Sanding Diffenderfer's boards for all those years I could feel them in my hands and reproduce that stuff.
"Clean lines. That's what Diffenderfer taught me; curves and foils."
Haut was invited to compete in the prestigious Duke Kahanmoku Invitational in 1964, and by '65 he returned to Northern California and set up his first shop.
"I started shaping locally here for George Olson," Doug explains. "He was getting behind with his orders so I started helping him out. And then this guy Gale Yount had a surf shop in Soquel -- a barn; an old barn back there. Gale went into the Coast Guard and I got his barn and all his tools. And I started my own shop in '65. That was the beginning of the Haut label."