The Code by Shaun Tomson

Undeniably one of the most influential surfers in history; Shaun Tomson, from South Africa, along with Australian surfers, Rabbit Bartholomew and Mark Richards were hailed as a new breed of competitive surfer, travelling to Hawaii in 1975 and changing the face of professional surfing forever. In 1977, Shaun was crowned surfing world champion. Shaun published a book about this incredible story titled, Bustin’ Down the Door: The Surf Revolution of ’75, which was later developed into the documentary, Bustin’ Down the Door, produced by and starring Shaun alongside a lineup of legendary surfers.

Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew and Shaun Tomson
Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew and Shaun Tomson. Photo by Dan Merkel

Needless to say, Shaun has an amazing story to tell. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for Shaun’s inspirational talk, The Light Shines Ahead at Huck magazine’s 71a Gallery in London. I was swept away by Shaun’s story, enthusiasm, humour, and the inspiration he exudes. He shared his memories of growing up surfing, his father, the story of his professional surfing career, his business, writing, and speaking endeavours, and the tragic passing of his son, Mathew. Shaun’s story is epic, inspiring, tragic, and heroic. He tells it so well, and his passion for surfing pours out throughout. I highly recommend you go see him speak if you get the chance.

Below is a short video by Huck from the night of the talk:

As well as sharing his inspiring story, Shaun also introduced his book, The Code: The Power of “I Will”, which I heartily recommend you read.

The Code: The Power of “I Will”

The premise of the book started when Shaun penned “the twelve most important lessons that surfing had taught him about life”. Just 12 reasons, 105 words. Each lesson began with the words “I Will”. He titled it the “Surfers Code”. This list later developed into the book, Surfer’s Code: 12 Simple Lessons for Riding Through Life, and more recently the book, The Code: The Power of “I Will”.

Buy the book on Amazon
The Code: The Power of 'I Will' by Shaun Tomson
The Code: The Power of “I Will” by Shaun Tomson

This book is about many things – faith, courage, creativity, determination – but above all it’s about the promises we make to ourselves about the future. These stories will inspire you to believe in yourself and to believe in the power that each and everyone of us has to effect change through the power of ‘I Will’. Once you do that, you begin to shape your future and achieve whatever you wish for.

Shaun Tomson

The Surfers Code

  • I will never turn my back on the ocean: Passion
  • I will paddle around the impact zone: No short cuts
  • I will take the drop with commitment: Courage, focus and determination
  • I will never fight a rip tide: The danger of pride and egotism
  • I will always paddle back out: Perseverance in the face of challenges
  • I will watch out for other surfers after a big set: Responsibility
  • I will know that there will always be another wave: Optimism
  • I will ride and not paddle into shore: Self-esteem
  • I will pass on my stoke to a non-surfer: Sharing knowledge and giving back
  • I will catch a wave every day, even in my mind: Imagination
  • I will realize that all surfers are joined by one ocean: Empathy
  • I will honor the sport of kings: Honor and integrity
Shaun Tomson at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1977. Photo by Jeff Divine
Shaun Tomson at Pipeline, Hawaii in 1977. Photo by Jeff Divine

Learn more about Shaun Tomson on his website:

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