Hydrodynamica is an independent film project dedicated to exploring and acknowledging the work of Bob Simmons, a brilliant and eccentric California surfer who died while surfing at Windansea Beach in San Diego in 1954.
By looking into the origin and influence of Simmons’ 1940s surfboard designs, which he called ‘hydrodynamic planing hulls’, we discover a narrative thread that connects Western science, design, and popular culture to the centuries old finless planing boards of Hawaii and Oceana. Through Simmons, the compelling story of the Planing Totem, the ancient and deceptively simple root of modern board riding, is revealed.
Simmons’ friend and historian John Elwell, age 78, founded Hydrodynamica in 2002, along with project director Richard Kenvin, age 49. Elwell and Kenvin have published a series of articles in the Surfer’s Journal that have inspired surfers around the world to build, ride, and experience their own versions of the boards that have evolved from the project.
Hydrodynamica has created exhibitions and educational presentations for various galleries and organizations including The Surfing Heritage Foundation, The Groundswell Society, The San Diego Maritime Museum, The Surf Gallery, The Greenroom Festival Japan, The Hydrodynamica Loft, and Patagonia.