From the get-go, Tom Carroll is no ordinary surfer. Short, goofyfoot, and was prone to injuries. The odds were not on Tom’s side, but this made him one of the best stories ever told in the surfing community around the globe. Before being inducted to the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame and becoming a well-known conference speaker, Carroll has had his fair share of ups and downs.
A legend in today’s surf culture, Tom was no hero when he started riding the waves in Australia back in the 1970s. In fact, many doubted his skills as surfing as seen a tall man’s sport and hobby back in the days. The 5-foot-6-inch native of New South Wales however was not interested in parking his surf boards on the shore. Simply put: he proved his critics wrong.
In the early 1970s, the young Carroll learned that surfing is his vocation. The teen Carroll during this decade was seen collecting awards and recognitions in the amateur circuits, slowly making his name in the local surfing scene. In 1974, he was named NSW’s Schoolboys champion, and in 1977 as Juniors’ best surfer and Pro Junior winner, which was repeated in 1980. From then on, Carroll knew that surfing is something that will be part of his life.
Known for his precise, powerful, and progressive approach in surfing, Carroll was easily unique among his peers. Rising from an unknown status, Carroll worked his way to the top of the game. From being ranked 24th, he slowly climbed up the lists to becoming part of the top 10. His victories in the waters led one to another. In 1983, he won at the Wave Wizards competition in Florida, United States and at the World Inland Pro in 1985 in Pennsylvania. However, what really made Carroll an icon in the surfing scene is his victory world title in 1983, winning six of 13 events. He became the world’s first goofyfoot to win the coveted title, signaling the way to other then-future goofyfoot world champions. In 1984, he took the challenge of world champion surfer Shaun Tomson, and successfully bagging the world title yet again.
With his successful world tour, Carroll has become an instant celebrity but his philosophies and life perspectives have never changed. In 1985, Carroll made a statement against apartheid by boycotting the South African leg. This move by Carroll has made him even more popular among surfers and communities, proving that he is willing to sacrifice title for the sake of something bigger than his career.
Tom’s persona on and off shore has helped him to become one of the most influential surfers of his generation. In 1984, he was named Surfer of the year, a recognition given to topnotch surfer who is selected by surfers and fans. Fast forward to 1988, Carroll made a history yet again as he became the first pro surfer to be awarded with a million dollar contract by famous surf culture brand, Quiksilver.
In 1990, he was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame. A year later, he won the Australia’s Surfing Life Peer Poll, and in 1999, he was inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Hall of Fame. His achievements were more than enough to place him at the seventh place of Surfer Magazine’s list of “Greatest Surfers of All Time”. During his pro career, Carroll collected 26 career world tour victories, three Pipe Masters, and two world titles.
His long list of victories in the surfing scene has become inspiration to many young and aspiring world champions. While he is no longer an active competitor, Tom makes his presence felt in the scene by being a sought-after conference speaker to individuals who are looking for good source of inspiration and motivation.