Graham “Dusty” Hinnant*

Graham “Dusty” Hinnant was an early pioneer on the mid-Atlantic surfing scene. He started living the beach life in the 1920s and 1930s, amid the grandeur of the Virginia Beach cottage-hotel era. In those days, each resort had its own stationed lifeguard, and enterprising young men like Hinnant, Babe Braithwaite, Hugh Kitchin, John Smith and Buddy Guy would be among the first to organize formal beach services. They not only served as lifeguards, but also rented out beach chairs, umbrellas, and floats to vacationers on the Virginia Beach waterfront. As part of his life saving ventures, Hinnant experimented with new water gear, including surfboards. He became proficient in building his own boards and wrote technical guidelines and tutorials for other amateur designers.  

Though the label “beach bum” was still a ways off, Hinnant and his buddies lived the same surfing and beachcombing lifestyle that would erupt into a cultural craze in subsequent decades, culminating in the “Gidget” era of the 1950s and ’60s. They were among the first East Coast surfers to go beyond wave riding and embody surfing as a way of life. 

Hinnant married his wife Lorraine in a secret ceremony in 1938. The couple moved to Miami Beach, but they were called back to Virginia Beach for Dusty’s military assignment following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Dusty worked at Fort Story while Lorraine volunteered for the Red Cross. After VE Day, they combined the ownership of Ocean Rescue and Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service and began wintering in Fort Lauderdale, where they operated Dusty’s Cabana Service, a beach operation serving area resorts.

Both Lorraine and Dusty were passionately involved in their Virginia Beach and Fort Lauderdale communities. Dusty was one of the original organizers of the East Coast Surfing Championships in Virginia Beach, an event that continues to this day. He was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 2000.

INDUCTION YEARS

1996
1998
2000
2002
2004
2006
2008
2010
2012
2014
2016
2018
2020
2022
2024