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Surfers vs Apartheid

Cheyne Horan. Photo: Gordinho
Martin Potter. Photo: Jeff Hornbaker
Martin Potter (right) and Shaun Tomson
Tom (right) and Nick Carroll. Photo: Jeff Divine
Cass Collier. Photo: Grant Ellis

The ASP world tour visited South Africa every year, so apartheid wasn’t a totally unfamiliar topic to surfers. Almost everyone knew what it meant, even if they didn’t know the numbers: that 30 million blacks in South Africa lived as an economically, socially, and geographically separated underclass to 4 million whites. That said, however, the sport was well and truly caught off guard in 1985 when apartheid was abruptly put front and center.

It started in April, at the annual Bell’s contest, w...

Reigning world champ Tom Carroll boycotted the contests in South Africa. One of his Hawaiian friends had been ordered from a whites-only restaurant in Durban, and another was beaten up as a disco for talking to a white woman. Boycotting, Carroll told the press, was "a basic humanatarian stand."