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Shaun Tomson's Tunnel Vision

Shaun Tomson, 1975. Photo: Jeff Divine
Tomson (right) with Wayne Bartholomew. Photo: Dan Merkel
Shaun Tomson, Jeffreys Bay. Photo: Art Brewer
Shaun (left), Michael Tomson, John Whitmore, 1970
Shaun Tomson, Burleigh, 1977. Photo: Dan Merkel

Shaun Tomson was the pro surfer of IPS founder Fred Hemmings’ dreams. To use a marketing phrase that was just beginning to catch on, Tomson was “the complete package”: bright and earnest, polite and dependable, a deadly competitor who was never anything less than a perfect sportsman. All that, plus he had an aristocratic blow-dried handsomeness that earned him modeling assignments from Calvin Klein and GQ. Everything about Tomson was above-average, and over the course of a long career he some...

How good was Shaun Tomson? At 19 he won the Hang Ten American Pro in perfect triple-overhead Sunset Beach, after a finals performance in which he out-pointed Jeff Hakman, Gerry Lopez, Reno Abellira, and Larry Bertlemann—Hawaii’s entire starting lineup.