Heritage

Behind The Logo

Shaun Tomson – Durban, South Africa 1972 – Photo Mike Duff
The story of Instinct goes back to when I was in high school. A photographer, Mike Duff, swam out at Dairy Beach in Durban, South Africa and captured an image of me surfing.

The local paper the Daily News published my first shot ever taken from the water. At 15 I was stoked!

Surfboards back then had not become branding billboards – generally each board had a single, small logo identifying the manufacturer which in my town were Safari, Holmes and Wetteland.

Derek Berry, an artist friend of my Dad’s created a graphic from the picture and my Dad thought it would look great on my next surfboard.

I was a shy kid. “O No Dad, it’s too big.”

“This is the deal son. If you are not having the logo, I am not buying the board.” A little tough love from my Dad. He understood the value of a powerful, simple and most of all authentic logo.
That logo went on to appear on every one of my boards throughout my career. I also used it when I founded the surfwear company Instinct and ultimately millions of units were sold bearing the image. The logo became a part of my DNA and I have to thank my Dad for his vision – every time I see the logo, I see my Dad.

Hawaii Stories

We called these rust buckets on wheels, North Shore Cruisers. 1976 – leaving Off the Wall and heading home to Pupukea Heights with my 7’0” single fin shaped by Spider Murphy with a 9” marine ply fin, sitting atop my Aloha surf racks, with stripped bolts, so no one could rip them off. Money was tight back in the 70s – not many sponsors to speak of and prize money was the only means of getting you from one place to another – from South Africa to Hawaii and on to Australia – that was pretty much the tour.

I would spend 3 or 4 months of the year in Hawaii from October through January and needed a trusty chariot to drive along the North Shore – the seven mile miracle along Kamehameha Highway from Haleiwa to Sunset Beach. In late 1976 I bought this Valiant for $150 – it had a push button transmission, no gas cap, and so much rust and bondo that I had to be careful shutting the door too hard, so it didn’t break off from the chassis. It served me well and at the end of the winter I simply left it on the side of the road with the keys in the ignition, for someone else to use. I’m sure the car found a worthy owner. A simple and pure time in my life.

I was a first year university student studying law and economics – I was gonna be a professional person but pro surfer wasn’t on the cards. I took some pictures of the legendary Jeff Hakman’s Brewer-shaped Sunset Beach 8’ gun and asked my shaper Spider Murphy to duplicate the design. I wanted it red and it turned out pink and that wasn’t the biggest mistake. Spider tried to shape in the rocker but the blanks were too straight so he put some bricks on the nose to bend in rocker while the board was drying after lamination.

The board really bent and looked like a banana – the pink banana. First wave on it at Sunset Beach, I spun out, and a guy ran me over, bashing me in both shins. Turns out the board couldn’t go right but on the backhand it was a dream. The extreme rocker fitted in perfectly to the steep walls at the Banzai Pipeline and helped me win the Masters in 1975. The board took me to places at Pipeline that had never been explored before. Lance Trout captured this radical backside reo in late 1975.