Surfer Profile: Shaun Tomson

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The 1977 World Champion, Shaun Tomson was the world’s answer to the hippiedom that surrounded surfing in the 70’s and 80’s. He was clean cut, good looking, intelligent and extremely passionate about the sport of surfing, and surfed and trained daily in a bid to be the best in the world.

Shaun perfected a skill for riding deep in the tube by pumping with a wide stance while in the barrel, often exiting waves that seemed impossible to make. Shaun went on to a career in acting (In God’s Hands) writing, film producing and motivational speaking, and enjoys popularity today with all of his endeavours.

Place of BirthDurban, South Africa
HometownMontecito, California, USA
Year of BirthAugust 21, 1955
First Season1976 Men’s CT


  • #67 Men’s CT 1992
  • 20.60 Avg. heat score

Event Wins

Men’s Championship Tour

1986Spur Steak Ranch Surfabout – 1st place
1984OP America Series – 1st place
Renault Sport – 1st place
Stubbie’s US Pro – 1st place
1982Mainstay Magnum – 1st place
1979J.S.O Chiba Pro – 1st place
1978Gunston 500 – 1st place
Jose Cuervo Classic – 1st place
1977Gunston 500 – 1st place
Hawaiian Tropic World Cup – 1st place
1976Gunston 500 – 1st place


  • Shaun Tomson learned to surf in the beachbreaks in and around Durban under the watchful eye of his father Ernie, and alongside older cousin  Michael Tomson and brother Paul Tomson.
  • Tomson went on to dominate amateur surfing competition in South Africa and began venturing over to Hawaii in the late 1960s, courtesy of a bar mitzvah present from his father. It was on one of these trips that an awestruck 14-year-old Tomson witnessed first hand the so-called “Biggest Wave Ever Ridden” by Californian Greg Noll at Mākaha in 1969. Hawaii’s surf proved to be a daunting challenge for Tomson, but he continued to mature and train in South Africa’s hollow waves, such as Cave Rock, the Bay Of Plenty, and Jeffrey’s Bay.
  • Tomson won 19 major professional surf events, has been listed as one of the 25 most influential surfers of the century and as one of the 10 greatest surfers of all time. During his career he was both the youngest and oldest surfer to win a pro event, and is considered to be one of the architects of professional surfing.


No sponsors since being inactive from surfing.


Shaun Tomson’s personal surfboard in 1979Shaun Tomson personal single fin surfboard shaped in South Africa by Bruce Jackson in 1979. A very special piece of surfing history ridden by the 1977 World Surfing Champion. All original condition.

News, Articles and Interviews

Quotes by Shaun Tomson

1. Surfing is all about uncertainty. That feeling of taking a risk, that leap of faith every time I jump into the ocean, that paddle out among things unseen — all of these make surfing very special.

2. Surfing teaches patience . On land, surfers cannot will a swell to appear. They have to wait for nature to make the call. So surfers wait . They keep their eyes on the horizon and they wait.

3. I will catch a wave every day, even in my mind.

4. Across all countries and cultures surfers are connected not by nationality, religion, politics, age … but by their experience riding waves. This is a powerful experience both in the waves themselves and inside each surfer.

5. One word defines the essence of surfing better for me than any other — stoke . One of the best things about stoke is that you can pass it along to someone who has never heard the expression.

6. The energy that moves across the ocean connects all surfers who ride it.

7. All surfers are joined by one ocean.

8. Surfing also teaches quality . I will wager that it is not the number of waves that makes a session memorable for any given surfer, but that one beautiful wave that he or she waited for … and rode all the way the way to shore.

Other Activities and Interests

1. Tomson is the author of the best-selling Surfer’s Code.

2. Tomson also authored Bustin’ Down the Door – Revolution of ’75, a companion to the film of the same name and Krazy Kreatures – Under my Surfboard!, a collection of illustrated rhymes for children.

3. Tomson has released 3 iPhone/iPad applications – Surfboards, a reference guide for surfboards; Surfer – a digital form of Surfer’s Code and Surf Creatures, animated rhymes for children.

4. Tomson is a board member and ambassador for Surfrider Foundation, the world’s largest environmental group dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches.

5. Tomson is currently an inspirational speaker for some of the world’s largest companies and talks about the influence of positive values on success in life and business based on his own experiences of overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges, in and out of the surf.

Interesting Facts about Shaun Tomson

1. The Tomsons’ son Mathew died at 15 years of age on 24 April 2006 in Durban, South Africa, from an accidental death caused by playing the “choking game.”

2. Tomson lives with his wife and son Luke in Montecito, California, in Santa Barbara, California. And surfs daily.

3. Tomson is best known in surfing for his signature wide stance, power turns, and barrel riding.

4. Tomson had a surfing style that was distinguishable from anyone else in the world.

5. Tomson founded, managed, and sold two multi-million market-leading clothing brands – Instinct in the 1980s, and Solitude in the 1990s.

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