On the beach at the '96 Pipe Internationals, I was introduced to Tom Morey by my friend Brian Press. Tom is truly a dreamer, a real visionary. The interview subjects spans surfing, the world and the universe.
BTW, I got this interview a long time before I saw the Surfer Magazine interview of Tom Morey. Just wanted to mention that.
NM: Well, you're the main man, the innovator, the inventor of the bodyboard. Did you envision bodyboarding coming so far?
TM: I had no as to how far it would go, but I knew it was pretty neat when I caught that first wave, and I could feel the wave itself. In stand up surfing, you don't quite feel the wave's quality, and when you're bodysurfing, you're kind of buried in it; you're kind off logging along in there. But on my first couple waves I had this undulating feelings; these things (hand gestures).
The other thing that turned me on, as soon as I started bending the nose down to catch the wave, and realizing that this was a new factor in waveriding. The surfboard shape is such that you just can't quite fit it to where you can cup that thing over and capture and get pulled to be able to bend it negative.
And then when I went out on my first couple of days, to a place called Banyan Trees, and everybody was leaving the water, because it was low tide. The rocks and urchins were coming up and their skegs were going to break off. I was just paddling out, you know, just getting into the water.
When I first started, I tried cutting left and right, getting across the wave. But it wasn't until years later that Mike Stewart stopped me and said, "Tom, you got parallelism." What's that I asked, and he said, "You're holding on with both hands on the front--put one hand back." I went, wow! And we went on from there.
It's come a long way and it's going to continue. I had a dream two nights ago that just blew my mind. This thing is going to go worldwide, right? But I realize that in time, it's going to go to every planet in the universe.
Think about that. Because there's gotta be surf everywhere, and there's no reason not to, unless there are stuff on the other planets that would bite you. It's a very interesting phenomenon.
So as far as being an inventor, I'm just a guy who was on the beach with the foam and a knife, and needed something to surf. So I just happened to be the guy on the spot.
NM: You've been inventing all your life. Is there anything coming down that we can look forward to in the near future?
TM: There is; you definitely should look forward to. I've been a surfboard maker, and I don't see any difference between bodyboarding and surfing--it's all surfing.
NM: Surfing is surfing.
TM: That's right. So I'm still working on boards of all kinds, of all sizes: from under four feet on up to twelve feet; even fifteen feet. One of those things that's a delight that I've never experienced is riding those really heavy jobs--hundred pound boards in little teeny waves that break long distances, plowing through where you can't quite see even that the wave is here, but you're still riding it.
But I've been chartered by the Mattel company to build surfboards. And I'm putting together, to the best of my ability, the materials that existed in conventional surfboards, the things that are here and some of the things I've seen in aircraft. I'm going to consolidate the materials and build a better surfboard.
We all have our dreams. I don't win of winning the Pipe contest, but I do dream of building a board that outperforms every surfboard and cannot break and is not going to kill you.
At one point, surfing will realize that boards are dangerous, unnecessarily dangerous. No sense having, like the guy who was killed at Waimea Bay the other day, and Mark Foo, and friends of mine. Bob Simmons, on of my patron saints, Bob Simmons, the inventor of the lightweight surfboard, the first guy to make a foam/wood fiberglass board--he died in 1953, a surfboard hit him at Windansea.
NM: So what about yourself. I've seen you all around the world. Where do you call home?
TM: We own a little place in Mexico, in Cabo. We rent in Dana Point. If and when our government goes to hell, I'd just as soon be in Cabo.
NM: Run for the border, huh?
TM: In our time, we've seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, we've seen the downfall of communism and the USSR go all to pieces. We're in a changing time, a changing world, and it's a fabulous time to be here. We'll probably see some heavy duty physical changes on the planet in the next some years you know...
Surfing is a tribe of some 20 million people, and there is lot of common sense that's gone with the learning that we've gained. Maybe we can still make it.