Shaun Tomson born on August 21, 1955 in Durban, South Africa is a former professional surfer, environmentalist, actor, and businessman. He learned to surf in the beachbreaks in and around Durban under the watchful eye of his father Ernie, and alongside older cousin Michael Tomson. The Tomson boys went on to dominate amateur surfing competition in South Africa and began venturing over to Hawaii in the late 60’s to ride and learn about the huge and powerful surf there. It was on one of these trips that an awestruck 14 year old Tomson eyewitnessed the so-called “Biggest Wave Ever Ridden” by Californian Greg Noll at Makaha in 1969. Hawaii’s surf proved to be a daunting challenge for the youngsters, but they continued to mature and train in South Africa’s hollow waves, such as Cave Rock, the Bay Of Plenty, Green Point, and Jeffrey’s Bay.
In 1975, Shaun and Michael were an integral part of the “Free Ride” generation. They, along with Australians Rabbit Bartholomew, Mark Richards, Ian Cairns, Peter Townend, Mark Warren, and others rode the infamous waves along Oahu’s legendary North Shore with a style, aggression, and raw courage unseen prior to their arrival. Collectively, these surfers changed the face of surfing and were the first to really apply themselves as serious professional surfers. With his good looks, eloquence, and undeniable athleticism, Tomson served by default as the face and voice of this movement, and he is still viewed as the prototype blueprint for today’s pro surfer, with legions of fans throughout the world. Tomson won the highly coveted IPS World Championship in 1977.
On a performance level, Tomson completely changed the way the tube of the wave was ridden, using a completely unique style of pumping and weaving through and around collapsing sections of the barrel. Even today, his electrifying performances at Off The Wall and Backdoor Pipeline stand the test of time. A very underrated aspect of Tomson’s inventiveness was his in the tube punch throughs where he escaped unscathed from hideous closeout sections over a shallow reef.
Tomson currently lives with wife Carla in Montecito, CA and is very active as a member and spokesman with the The Surfrider Foundation. He is also involved with his family clothing venture, Solitude. JC Penney recently signed on as distributor for Solitude Clothing in the US. Tomson recently co-produced a full length feature film about the benchmark mid-70’s surfing era called, “Bustin’ Down the Door” which premiered in early 2008. – Courtesy of Wikipedia
Episode #6 Shaun Tomson: Shaun Tomson
33voices interviews Shaun Tomson