Elder Statesmen: Shaun Tomson

The World According To Shaun

Shaun Tomson at Pipeline in the 80's. Jeff Divine

At the sprightly age of 60, Shaun Tomson, originally from South Africa, has been an icon, a shining light, in the surfing universe. He has had some massive highs in his life, as well as some crushing, soul-destroying lows. From his World Title in 1977, to the death of his son, Matthew, in 2006, Shaun has experienced it all.

It was only the second year of professional when the young Durban surfer was crowned the world champion of surfing, taking the crown from Peter Townsend.

While a world title is always a pinnacle in any professional sporting career, it actually indicated the start of a very successful career that made Shaun one of the ten most influential surfers in the world. One of his incredible skills was to be able to ride deep within the tube, a skill that he perfected in the long tubes of The Bay Of Plenty in Durban, when it was considered to be one of the best waves in the world. He took this skill to the notorious waves of Hawaii, particularly a wave called Off The Wall, and his performances here made the South African surfer world famous.

Shaun Tomson - http://shauntomson.com/

Another incredible feat was when the young Shaun Tomson paddled out at the notorious wave called the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii with a crazy, heavily-rockered pink board made by Spider Murphy. The board, immediately named ‘The Pink Banana’ received mixed reviews from the fellow competitors on the beach, but it turned out, somewhat serendipitously, to be the perfect board for the hollow, concaving waves of Pipeline, and Shaun became a Pipe Master on that very board.

After the tragic death of Matthew in 2006, Shaun’s life took on a very different turn. He became an inspirational author and a keynote speaker. His book, The Surfers Code - 12 Simple Rules For Riding Through Life – is a book more about how to live life to the fullest as opposed to how to surf better, and was warmly received the world over.

Shaun went on to direct the movie called Bustin' Down The Door, a surf movie that chronicles the emergence of the Australian and South African surfers on the world stage in the 70’s and how their brashness in Hawaii resulted in lost teeth, death threats, shotguns and baseball bats. Starring Rabbit Bartholomew and Shaun, along with Ian Cairns and other such legends of the sport, this movie was instantly deemed a classic and saw his career head down another exciting avenue.

Bustin' Down The Door trailer - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NOfm4WEMCs

Shaun then went on to write a new book, aimed squarely at the adolescent market, called The Code: The Power Of I Will.  It is a book of 12 chapters, each beginning with the phrase ‘I Will’ – I will be myself, I will never give up etc.. It’s a great little book of positive affirmations that can only make people, young or old, stronger in their lives and in their approach to living.

The Power Of I Will - http://www.surfermag.com/blogs/reviews/the-code/#SZZbB3sTEL7Bcsoe.97

In between all of this creative output Shaun was still surfing, and this culminated recently in the Heritage Session at the World Surf League Championship Tour event at Trestles, California, in which Shaun was invited to surf.

At the age of 60 he blew minds with his surfing, his fitness, his agility and his charm on land and in the water. For every single wave of that session, here’s the heritage session video right here - http://www.worldsurfleague.com/posts/144307/heritage-series-expression-session  

Shaun is also on the board of the Surfrider Foundation, who has a goal to keep our ocean clean and to control rampant beach side development.

Shaun is probably the best ambassador the sport of surfing has ever had, and will have, for a long time to come.

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Jarvis, Craig. "Elder Statesmen: Shaun Tomson." ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/elder-statesmen-shaun-tomson-3154704. Jarvis, Craig. (2016, August 23). Elder Statesmen: Shaun Tomson. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/elder-statesmen-shaun-tomson-3154704 Jarvis, Craig. "Elder Statesmen: Shaun Tomson." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/elder-statesmen-shaun-tomson-3154704 (accessed November 18, 2017).