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'Surfer's Code'

Shaun Tomson's Surfer's Code:

I will never turn my back on the ocean.
I will always paddle back out.
I will take the drop with commitment.
I will know that there will always be another wave.
I will realize that all surfers are joined by one ocean.
I will paddle around the impact zone.
I will never fight a rip tide.
I will watch out for other surfers after a big set.
I will pass on my stoke to a non-surfer.
I will ride, and not paddle in to shore.
I will catch a wave every day, even in my mind.
I will honor the sport of kings.


Following article by H. Grossman at www.flatoday.com:

INDIALANTIC -- He was 15 the day he walked up the beach on the North Shore of Oahu, watching the thunderous Pipeline waves crashing into the coral reefs below.

There he sat, with his surfboard, pink nonetheless, its red design prematurely faded by the sun.

The board, beveled perhaps too much by concrete bricks that had been placed on the nose by his shaper, had performed like a front door instead of a surfboard.

But something -- that certain "stoke" a surfer gets when the fires burn deep inside him -- told him to take a chance.

Shaun Tomson's first ride at Pipeline became legendary. Deep in the tube, one of the first to challenge those types of waves backside, facing against the wave, was epic.

He's now 51, still tanned, handsome and still drawing lots of attention as evidenced by the steady line of fans seeking autographs Friday night at The Goods Surf and Skate store.

"It's great to see how surfing has progressed through the years," said Tomson, who not only won the 1977 world championship but also was ranked among the top six competitors in the world for a nine-year period beginning in 1976. "A few of us had a dream to make a living from surfing and see it as an industry, and now to see it grow internationally is great satisfaction."

The lessons Tomson learned from surfing -- such as trusting your instincts, just as he had done at Pipeline -- parallel those of his life.

Friday, he was in Brevard County promoting his just-released book, Surfer's Code, which shares 12 simple lessons he learned from his childhood in apartheid South Africa (when Hawaiian Eddie Aikau needed a permit just to surf the beach there) to his conquests on many of the world's famous beaches.

He signed each of his autographs with a message, such as, "Keep surfing in your heart" or "Surfing is the only life."

In his book, he relates that surfing is not a sport in which you can play 18 holes, write down your score and go out and play the same 18 holes the next day. "Once you have ridden those waves, they're gone," he wrote. "Surfing is all about uncertainty."

Earlier this year, he and wife, Carla, lost their 15-year-old son, Mathew, when a schoolyard "choking" game back in South Africa went awry. But Tomson has been through adversity before, such as when his father, training for the Olympic swim team, had his right arm ravaged by a shark. Or when his business ventures didn't quite turn out the way he had expected.

But life goes on.

"This book, I think, delivers a wonderful, pure message," Tomson said. "Losing a heat or a contest is not going to be the worst thing to happen to you."

How good of a surfer was he?

Satellite Beach's Ray Sentz brought in a Surfing magazine from 1976 -- the year before he won the world title -- with an action photo of Tomson gracing the cover.

"That was my first interview in America," Tomson said. "I was in the university back in South Africa and I had just looked at the cover of Surfing magazine and there I was. Then I turned it back over to see the magazine below it and there I was on the cover of Surfer. I was like, 'Whoa!' For a teenager to see himself on those covers was unbelievable."

These days, he and his wife live in Montecito, Calif., near one of his favorite surf spots, Rincon, off the coast of Santa Barbara, where he passes his "stoke" on to young surfers and non-surfers. His neighbors include Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Jimmy Connors, to name a few.

He continues to surf every day -- in fact, one of his 12 codes in his book reads, "I will catch a wave every day, even in my mind."

His friends are countless, including longtime rivals such as Peter Townend, the 1976 world champion, and film co-stars such as Robert August.

And, although he surfed against other legends such as Mark Richards and Tom Carroll, he said Cocoa Beach's Kelly Slater, the reigning eight-time world champ, is the best ever.

"Yeah, he's the greatest of all-time," he said in an accent still unique to his native land. "He has the power, speed, rhythm, style -- and imagination -- you need to be the best."

After 14 seasons on the world circuit, Tomson retired in 1989, as the second-leading money-winner that season.

"I was totally satisfied to leave when I did, and I'm proud of that," he said. "I never looked over my shoulder. I had the most wonderful career."

Contact Grossman at 242-3676 or hgrossma@flatoday.net



Blogger NeoN said...

good stuff.

November 14, 2006  
Blogger BirdOfParadise said...

I am so sorry these folks lost their boy....

Since I lost one of my 13 year old sons on May 6, 2005 over 135 children have fallen victim to this high risk, thrill seeking, wicked activity known as 'the choking game'.

Ignorance is anything but bliss,
Sarah Pacatte, Gabriel Mordecai's mom




November 14, 2006  

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