Over four decades of a mad – yet loving relationship with the ocean, two time world champion and all around family man, Mr Tom Carroll with long time partner in crime, Ross Clarke-Jones, have been pushing the extremes as ultimate adventurers. For most adrenaline junkies, it’s about finding the ultimate ‘where’ to challenge, but for these guys (who admit they are addicted) it’s about the ‘when’. In chasing the storm to get to the biggest most extreme conditions, Tom reckons “surfing big waves is not about how ripped your abs are or how much you bench press…it’s about your nerve.” Nerve, madness and a whole lot of love for your holy grail, which Director Ben Matson states is “to find new spots that have never been surfed.” Not only is this the ultimate 3D adventure, it is one of those incredible surf films that makes you laugh, scares you just a bit and all around inspires the soul.
TATS: In the Northern Beaches we are lucky to have lifestyle that offers a close relationship with the ocean. Coming from this area, how has that enabled you to do what you have done with Storm Surfers.
TOM: First of all, I am incredibly blessed to just have been born in this place. I feel from traveling around the world, to be born and grow up on The Northern Beaches is just an absolute blessing, because of what I have seen around the world.
I started surfing in the early 70’s, I was given a surfboard in 1969 and The Northern Beaches has offered me a relationship with the ocean, and there are not many places that equal it, very very few in fact.
TATS: Who gave you that surfboard?
TOM: My Dad. It came out from underneath the bed on Christmas Day. When I was seven years of age. That was an unexpected gift, but it was something that just lifted me up.
I was already swimming and loving the water anyway. We would go down to the beach a bit. But then I just became a pest. My father who was buggered from a weeks worth of work, or cleaning the yard on the weekend, I was always at his side every five minutes… “DAD! Take me to the beach! Take me to the beach ! Take me to the beach!” I just had to get in the ocean, I felt really at home. The Northern Beaches has all that good stuff right here at our doorstep.
TATS: Chirosports is sponsoring this exciting fundraiser event for the screening of Storm Surfers 3D in a cinema so very close to home…How do you feel about the level of sports therapy you have offered to you in your community given the local legends that come from the area?
TOM: One thing is my body has taken 43 years of powering the surf, and I’d be unaware of the issues, unless I have tapped into the services of Chirosports. My body is sorta slowly going into chronic issues and I needed to have that addressed by someone that had the expertise, the knowledge and ability to see and feel it.
My body wants to shut down, just not feel it, and keep going. They have helped to show me that this default mechanism of mine, being a professional athlete, is to push through pain. They really have some great services there, and if we tap into it, we can learn how to heal. We can get more longevity, longevity is all we are looking for, especially at my age.
TATS: MadWax…Storm Surfers? Big breadth of Difference!
TOM: There is such a big difference between Ross and I from now and then, and as we have grown up our characters have blossomed. But we still have a certain thing that remains from those early days, like a vibrant sorta strong character in our own right.
I think that shines through both in MadWax and Storm Surfers. But it shows that we’ve come through life, and grown, that comes out in this movie.
TATS: In the film you say…“surfing big waves is not about how ripped your abs are or how much you bench press…it’s about your nerve.” Where do you acquire that nerve from?
TOM: You can acquire that from practicing and from pushing yourself into uncomfortable spaces. From engaging with your adrenaline and stepping into that unknown space within yourself. I think that’s where you gotta go, confronting that, then staying in that really uncomfortable, sometimes super uncomfortable place. Staying with yourself, staying strained and holding it, AND THEN coming out the other side. That’s when you get awakened to – FAR OUT I CAN DO THIS! It’s incredible, you think, look where I’ve just been.
I think that’s where Ross and I identify with being addicted to it, cause then you want more! But then at that point, you start to think, how do we do it better, how do we access that curiosity… you start looking for newer experiences, and I guess that’s when we become adventurers at that point.
TATS: The fundraiser at your close-to-home screening, will be contributing to the local Nippers Programs. As we see the Nippers programs beautifully develop a healthy relationship with the ocean for many of The Northern Beaches youngsters, would you like to see your daughters follow your path?
I’d be happy to help them along that path, as long as there was a commitment. At some point you are going to be asked to give everything you’ve got and more – and that requires a commitment. As long as there is commitment, from my kids or anyone, I am happy to nurture that along and see where we can help more people to do what they love to do. Cause it is definitely not all happy days, you have to take the losses along the ways.
With the ocean, I think it is the healthiest lifestyle you can lead. Being challenged by the ocean, I’d really love them to experience what I have experienced with the ocean, no matter what.
Interview by Tatianna K Alpert
Local Focus is lovingly produced in collaboration with Little Hobo Project