Wed, 12 May 2010

A bizarre shark sighting at Thermo's had surfers and spectators perplexed. The animal was identified as a Hurley Tiger shark, a rare specimen indeed. Craig Ritchie tells us more about this strange beast. All photos by Anton du Preez.

You may have heard by now about Hurley’s Win A Trip To California competition, where entrants compete for the most votes for a chance to fly to the US Open of Surfing later this year.Well, last week Hurley opened up another five slots in their final round for the most creative entries, and hands down the most bizarre submission yet has to be that of Sea Point surfer Tom Caitlin.

“What happened was, well, I’ve got a man cave,” explains Tom, a man with a creative streak that belies his shoe-wholesale day job. “Every guy has got a man cave where he fixes something, stores linen, goes to get some time away from the wife. It’s very close to my heart, and I go there on Saturdays after surf with a bottle of whiskey to read surf mags, and work on my projects. So I decided to make a shark’s head and got to work on a chicken wire frame surrounded by fiberglass. The teeth are made of foam and the eyeballs are from a squashball cut in half. The whole thing took about 3 weeks”.

Diving headlong into the project, Tom may have been more focused on making an impression than petro-chemical safety 101. “I bought a filter,” he says, “which is like a gas mask. You need this while working with all the polyurethane fumes. Now, I was basically breathing them in for 2 weeks with the door closed. I ended up with lacerations on the inside of my lungs because I had not put the filters onto the mask properly!”

The hero of our tale then had to go to the doctor for a course of antibiotics to help his troubled lungs. With strong lungs and fresh resolve, he returned to his cave to complete his masterwork and craft himself a new board to go along with it.

“I put the shark’s head aside for a while, and I shaped myself a 7’2 step up board,” says Tom, “with a ‘tiger shark’ design on it. After surfing Silverstroom, my friend Dan cut my wetsuit quite hectically in the back – the cut was so high it was like a g-string. Anyway, I went for a surf at Thermos in this thing. I paddled out at low tide and it was freezing because I was wearing practically no rubber. It was a very tough paddle and on the way out a 3-foot wave broke on me, so I actually had to bail the board while I held on to shark suit. There were loads of guys on the side of the road going “what is this ou doing??” and a bunch of surfers in the water who couldn’t believe what they were seeing. I also made a flag out of cardboard but I couldn’t paddle out with because I was being annihilated by the sets. I made it to the back and caught one wave, which was really difficult because the shark’s head had filled with water. I just just made it to the flat section because it was closing out and I managed to go straight and come in.”

A serious effort, then, from a man with his energies so fixed on the end goal that he would brave the icy Atlantic in a wetsuit with about as much substance as Borat’s speedo, subject the product of three weeks’ worth of effort to the bashing of relentless waves and unforgiving kelp, not to mention a complete disregard for his own dignity and social standing. Good on you, Tom!

Hurley’s Win A Trip To California competition runs until June 15th, so there’s still plenty of time to head over to http://www.hurley.co.za and put together your most creative entry and stand a chance to attend the Hurley US Open of Surfing first hand.


Marck Patrick
0 #7 Marck Patrick 2010-05-21 20:10
Too much Tom...helluva effort! Hope your injuries are healing well. Wish I coulda seen you out there, though I woulda pissed my suit, and probably sunk and drowned with laughter. Good luch with the comp. Mck
David Smith
0 #6 David Smith 2010-05-14 01:17
Classic Thomas Caitlin the artist!
Jev, I was right with Adin Jeenes winning last year ... Thomas check your passport Bru ... Kalifornia ekse!!!!
0 #5 Lynne 2010-05-13 20:18
Well...there is NO DOUBT who should win the HURLEY Trip to California Comp!
So innovative
0 #4 camelpiel 2010-05-13 19:53
Inspired, my man, and inspiring. I watched you battling your way out to the backline on a day when the backline was ill-defined. Respect and good luck.
Thomas Catlin
+5 #3 Thomas Catlin 2010-05-13 15:37
Thank you Anton, Liam, Jevon and Wavescape
and everyone who is voting for the Hurley Tiger Shark!
Trevor Gray
+3 #2 Trevor Gray 2010-05-13 12:30
Stop the clock!!
This guy has got to go to California!!
gemma orkin
+3 #1 gemma orkin 2010-05-12 22:04
My brother is a legend....this is not the first really cool trick he has pulled.love you bru forever
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