Aloha Everyone and welcome to a the 10th episode of The Temple of Surf – The Podcast.
Today with us Tom Carroll legendary surfer from Australia, 2X winner of the world title in 1983 and 1984 and Pipe Masters in 1987 Let’s discover more about him, his stories , future projects and much more!
You can follow us on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube and in all major podcast platforms….if you want to read the interview you can do it here…. please forgive us of some spelling mistakes as we had to transcribe it fully
TTOS: Alhoa Tom and welcome to the show! Where are you today?
I’m in Sydney, Avalon beach is my home in Sydney, Northern Beaches area.
I’m just lucky I grew up here….I’m still living in the place that I grew up in. So I’m very, very lucky.
TTOS: How is over there in the time of coronavirus, you guys can surf, right?
We had some restriction right in the middle and right at the beginning when they started to impose the closing some beaches because people just came out of …. they thought it was a holiday, you know…
At the beginning, there wasn’t very strong direct direction at first and everyone just thought it was a holiday.
People went to the beach and party, basically it turned out a big party…we’re not working…. we’re going to the beach….we couldn’t do anything else….
Australians go to the beach and party! There was beautiful weather just classic time and the best time of year to have, in Sydney particularly, in Bondi beach, everyone went mad!
It was like more crowded than new year’s Eve.
So yeah, the Government just went…. stop humans!… stop now!
They stopped everything and then post big restrictions on beaches, like Bondi or the big beaches in Sydney where a lot of people congregate and then some of the smaller beaches, but luckily, other beaches were left open.
That did make sense because people just came to the smaller beaches, but then they had to put more restrictions on our movements and then they started to get stronger on the direction of how to be more safe, but they never stopped us from going in the ocean and never stopped getting exercise in the beach, being able to walk the beach, being able to swim in the ocean.
That made a lot of sense when we go in the ocean and when we’re doing exercise, we’re actually becoming healthier.
It just makes sense to become healthier rather than getting stuck inside. We’re actually making our systems weaker.
So we want to expose ourselves to nature where we are supposed to be.
I think they did a good job here so far…. we don’t know what’s coming….. but they never stopped the surfing. Thank God! I would have gone crazy!
TTOS: Today we’re going to talk about you, surf, surfboards, your future projects and much more…
First question I have for you is, in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?
I think the relationship we get with nature, the most important thing for us in surfing is the relationship we get with water and, as a result, the relationship we get with ourselves.
it just brings on a healthy existence, I suppose, for the mind and the body.
These things integrate really nicely in the ocean and as a result, we just go there and get some exercise.
I always feel better when I come in from a surf. there’s not one time in my 53 years of surfing that I’ve ever been.
Even if I’m feeling like having a bad day, I go surfing, even if it’s a small difference, it’s always on the better side.
We’re part of the salt water, the salt water marries in with our body…if it’s fresh water or if we go surfing in a wave pool, I still get a good feeling.
I think it’s about moving the body to a natural force, you know, we’re moving the body, like as like dancing…..I always feel better when we come off the dance floor…. our body feels connected, mind feels connected….we just feel well integrated.
TTOS: When did you start to surf?
I started to surf when I was seven years of age, I grew up in Newport beach, which is only two suburbs away towards the city of Sydney.
I didn’t move very far, but we moved well, I’ve got a surfboard given to me for Christmas by my parents. Actually my mother gave this to me….I’ll never forget.
She came and she gave me this foam surfboard for Christmas on Christmas night….. I just lost my mind. I couldn’t believe that I had a surfboard.
It was just like, “mate, I couldn’t wait to get to the beach”.
I didn’t know about wax, I didn’t understand wax. It had paint on this foam surfboard, like, you know, styrofoam, it didn’t have fiberglass….It just was a foam block.
It was made to look like a surfboard. I went out surfing. I couldn’t stay on it cause it was slippery as I didn’t know about wax.
The tiny ways that came through, I was just “no way” throw the surfboard away….
I go to shore, I go off to swim all the way those waves.
Eventually I got introduced to a fiberglass surfboard and there was a lot of surfing going on at the beach. I just noticed all this guys, you know, watching there’s all the guys surfing…I was super impressed, I loved watching what these guys were doing and I was fascinated.
TTOS: Who were your references when you were adolescent in surfing?
I come from the 1970s in Australia, my idols were really inspirational to me.
The best local surfer at the beach was Derek Hine.
He’s well known for finless surfboard surfing and then there was people like Colin Smith from Narrowband.
He was an amazing surfer at the time, the most radical surfer in the world, there was also a lot of great surfers from our area who you did really well in the competition all the way around the world at that time.
There was some really high level surfing going on….
Colin Smith was really important to me, Michael Peterson, he was just an incredible surfer from Queensland, which is Northern part of Australia where people like Mick fanning, Joel Parkinson and people like that come from.
My brother who’s two and a half years older than me and all our friends, just this tight group of buddies, we used to idolize Michael Peterson the way he was surfing, very powerful.
I’d say when I got towards 15, 16, 17, then other surfers came, I mean, even earlier than a man around that Michael Peterson, there was Jerry Lopez and Wayne Lynch.
Also, Sean Thompson, Simon Anderson, Mark Richards, were brilliant….my heroes. And I will really look up to these guys.
TTOS: a lot of inspiration coming from these legendary surfers….
Yeah, they can make you improve without copying them.
Yeah. Oh yeah. “I want to do a bottom turn like this guy”, “I want to do a top turn like that”, “I want to do a drop back” and “I want to feel like that when I’m doing that” you know, it always comes out in your own flavor.
TTOS: What was your first surfboard?
When I started to surf, I noticed the design of the surfboard and how it was affecting my surfing to actually get better.
It was when I was 12 years old and this board was made for me by this shaper named Rodney Hawker This board was so beautiful, I remember it really clearly…. it was six foot three., quite a long board. Those were sort of sizes we rode back in the seventies.
And that board lifted my performance, I could feel the lifting of the performance, had a huge impression down the track.
Then it was Colin Smith from Narrabeen shaped my surfboards.
He shaped for me a beautiful six, three to replace that board.
My surfing started to lift and lift and lift, getting into the professional stages….I ended up surfing for Byrne surfboards.
Phil Byrne and I started to work closely in the shaping bay and we started speaking the same language in design.
I would spend time with him inside the shaping bay and understand how to shift and help him change. Both of us worked together on the design really, really closely that produced boards for me to win world titles.
That was a very close relationship….we still, we stay in contact today.
TTOS: Are you been collecting surfboards? how many do you have currently?
I can only ride one and I got too many surfboards. I have to clean out…..I really do.
It’s just too many, but I have a collection and it’s a little bit embarrassing…I have a lot of surfboards maybe over a hundred underneath the house near that’s just down below from where I’m sitting
TTOS: what is the most important surfboard you have today, or the one with a very special meaning?
Well, I, I own this surfboard, but it’s on display and it’s actually in Hawaii.
It’s on display in a surf shop, actually the surf shops owned by one of my hero legends, his name’s Barry Kanaiaupuni in Haleiwa on the North shore.
It’s my surfboard that I won the pipeline masters in 1991, it’s broken in half, but it’s in a cabinet and on display, it’s a pink board.
I have the helmet that I used to use the pipeline there and it’s on display, so people in the shop can look at it.
That was a very important board for me, it was shaped by Pat Rawson, very famous shaper from Hawaii who still shapes, beautiful boards there, fantastic surf boards.
I still have him shaped boards for me when I go to Hawaii today.
And that boat’s super important to me.
TTOS: What was the defining moment of your career?
Using that surfboard at pipeline in that masters was definitively one, I did a turn of pipeline that that they called “the snap”…. that was heard around the world.
It seems to be a very defining moment for others because of just what it meant.
It sort-of personified my surfing and my approach to surfing because I like to, I try to surf bigger waves like a surf little waves.
That kind spoke a lot in just one maneuver on the wave.
That pipeline masters was particularly very defining moment at when it was very difficult. a very strong wind for me.
Prior to that, a defining moment in my career was also using my world champion status to make a decision not to surf in South Africa because of apartheid in 1985.
that was another defining moment in my career, the world titles were really defining, but using that to make a stand and make it clear that I did not support that way of treating another person.
TTOS: What was your greatest achievement in your opinion?
Winning the two world titles and staying on the tour and committing myself to the tour was really, really tricky It was really tough work.
Winning that second world title was really, really strong for me to show that to myself, that I could backup and win again.
When that comes along, that gives us a certain posture….I was heading into the third year in a row feeling really strong, I haven’t won the first two events of that next year. going into 1986 years. ..I won the first two events of that year, I felt super strong, kind of had that beatable feeling.
Then I had an ankle injury, the ankle injury just stopped me…I lost all my confidence. It took me six months to come back from that.
Injury danger is a defining moment….I had to sit back and then Tom Curren took over…..that was a really tricky time for me as a competitive surfer.
TTOS: What was the greatest memory of those years or the funniest one, if you want to tell us…?
I think the funniest one was actually surfing in Allentown, the first wave pool event in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
That was a part of the tour in 1985 and surfing in Allentown, Pennsylvania on a tour event, it was the most strangest feeling ever we’re driving through central US and Pennsylvania.
“what are we doing in Pennsylvania?”
I was standing at the airport, we found a rental car and there was about five or so it looks, we couldn’t take it seriously.
It was like, “what are we doing? we had to get to the hotel, there’s no beach….we felt really weird.
We got a rental car and there was about, I think there was like six of us in the rental car but we had 16 boards surfboards.
Back then in 1985, we didn’t have those special board bags that you could pull the boards in one bag. We all had sort of separate board bags. That’s the way it was.
We didn’t have fins systems either. We had blasting and everyone had glossy and fins.
So we had 16 surfboards on top of this car and we’re driving through Pennsylvania that had no waves.
Allentown, Pennsylvania has no surf.
People were given some strange looks, “what are these? Oh, well, what’s going on?” and it didn’t make any sense, you know, it was just like….there was surfing a wave pool and there’s people going: “what are they doing”
it was like surreal, it was one of the strangest feelings I ever had on the tour.
TTOS: Looking back at your career, would you have changed anything?
I kind of lost my drive to compete and I kinda thought that was it for me in it around about 1993, but my surfing improved after the tour, I just started to improve as a result of being more relaxed and allowing my talent to kind of build on itself.
If I had my time again, I probably would have tried to go back on tour to you test myself against the best ….when I look back on it now.
I probably would have done it ,I don’t really regret it….I may not.
I still had a fantastic time anyway, I get to a gut to surf for living anyway, which is like 0.0, zero, zero, zero 1% on the planet.
But if I could do it, maybe I’ll go back to try to challenge those. guys at the time, you know, cause I watched Kelly Slater’s, he’s an incredible surfer, he’s like a real natural, an amazing athlete.
I don’t think I’m that competitive a person like he is, but I see that kind of talent that he has.
I think there was probably a few more years left in me of competing that I didn’t recognize
TTOS: looking at your future plans, what else is next?
At the moment I’ve been practicing meditation for about 13 years and more, almost 14 years.
What I like about meditation is that it just brings us some better spice, better brings them best….it brings out the great side of us, you know, it brings out that part of us, which is, is full of life and actually helps us take the right direction
It guided me so beautifully and I, so I’ve taken a teacher’s course and I want to teach people meditation.
I’m very keen on that at the moment I’m coming to the end of the finishing and being graduated.
I would like to bring the meditation to as many people as I can. That’s a bit of a goal of mine.
I like to do that create something online and get people beyond where I live, but ultimately one-on-one, it’s really good that we can do groups.
I think it does exactly what you just mentioned, Alessandro is just allow stress, tension and fatigue to deter be pulled out of the body, but without us in the way. So that’s it, that’s the goal right there.
TTOS: We will finish our interview with a short Q/A session, so please answer the first thing that comes us to your mind….The best surfboard that you ever ridden….
I think that pipeline board was the ‘91 public board, seven, eight, Pat Rawson for pipeline that fit fitted me like a glove.
TTOS: The best shaper of all time.
Wow. The best shaper to me, it is Pat Rawson. He’s brilliant. He’s still shaping beautiful, beautiful boards.
he’s a real artisan and I’d have to give that to him.
TTOS: Personal question….your favorite song
I like classical music by Chopin.
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot
Oh wow. So many good spots. Wow. I love Jaylen in Java Indonesia, probably still want to have my top of the list if I can go anywhere right now… hanging in the jungle in Java land.
TTOS: The best surfer of all time.
I’d say Kelly Slater.
I mean, he has shown to be consistently the best and it’s still today can put it to the young guys pretty big. So he still remains to me to be the best.
TTOS: And the last question is a little bit unusual….we want to know your best, a relationship device.
Recorded in May 2020