Surfing as a metaphor

Who is Shaun Tomson?

I didn’t know, but as a surfer, maybe I should. Shaun teamed up with some famous Aussie surfers back in the day and took on the big boys at Oahu in Hawaii. Along with Aussies Rabbit Bartholomew, Mark Richards, Ian Cairns, Peter Townend and Mark Warren Tomson rode the local break with bold, raw aggression that hadn’t been seen before and in doing so changed the face of surfing from Midget Farrelly’s nose riding to something bold and new. Here’s Shaun and Mark ripping in the seventies.

Surfers Code – 12 Simple Lessons for Riding through life.

But there’s more to Shaun Tomson than taking the drop on 15 foot waves. Recently the London Surf Film Festival had an evening with Shaun where he talked about the work he does with young people.

I found out about this through my RSS feeds on Surf Film Festivals and followed up my research on Shaun using Google and watching some awesome videos of this South African legend I didn’t know about.

Talking with young people

A major influence on Shaun was the death of his fifteen year old son who through poor choice and bad decisions lost his life. Shaun now talks to young people, encouraging them to understand themselves and their decision making. He uses surfing as a metaphor for this.

Dropping down the face of a wave like the one below takes courage but also you need to know your limits, which is Shaun’s message to the kids he talks to. As Shaun says:

“If there’s one existential moment in surfing, it’s when you’re 20 feet back in the tube and you’re racing for the light. It’s very much about living in that absolute moment because when you stand there on the board, the future’s just in front of your front foot, the past is just behind your back foot and the present is right beneath your feet.”

Taking the drop
Taking the drop












Shaun Tomson takes the drop


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