Tom Carroll On Michael Peterson’s Awe Inspiring Session At Newport Pool
MP was The Man. Growing up he was who we idolised. We watched his surfing and emulated every movement. He was our God really. He literally was… there was no other god as far as I was concerned. We used to watch every movie he was in and watched every little movement – everything – I just soaked it in. I’d have this burst of inspiration every time I saw him surf.
So anyway, I was about 12 years old and it was just before the Coke contest at Narrabeen. I remember it being a southerly swell and The Pool – which was a poor man’s Bells kind of wave at the south end of Newport – was breaking.
I was waxing up my board on the floor of Ocean Shores surf shop, which was on the corner of Coles Parade and Foamcrest Avenue. The owner, Charlie let us hang out in there, and that day I was minding the shop for him while he ducked down the street, and I was on the floor waxing up my board, sitting there on the old seagrass matting, totally engrossed in it. Charlie walks back in the shop and I’m waxing away and I haven’t even looked up, and Charlie has gone, “Tom, do you want to take Michael surfing?”
I’m still waxing away and then I’ve looked up and there he was looking down at me. He had this long hair and the sun was behind him and it was like Jesus appearing. He had this halo of light all around him and he didn’t say a word and I wasn’t even sure it was real at this stage. I couldn’t believe what was going on. I started mumbling. I went, “Umm… yeah?” Would I like to take Michael Peterson surfing? Are you fucking kidding me?!
“He had this long hair and the sun was behind him and it was like Jesus appearing.”
We walked down Coles Parade and over the zebra crossing and down toward the beach at the south end of Newport and I remember it clearly because he didn’t say a word. There were a couple of grunts and that was it. I couldn’t believe I was taking Michael Peterson surfing. I was frozen. I was suddenly trapped inside my own dream. I was a shy, tiny kid at 12 and super reserved by nature, so I was walking along next to him and he was this big guy. It must have looked so funny. Anyway, I remember getting down to the shore and showing him through the rocks on the way out, which was tricky. I didn’t want to be the one who got MP washed across the rocks. That was a lot of pressure for a kid!
I’ll never forget that surf. All of my friends were freaking out. I paddled out and they’re all like, “Whoa! Are you taking Michael Peterson surfing?” Word had got around that MP was surfing Newport, and suddenly all these guys started paddling out. It’d be like having Kelly Slater turn up at your home beach today.
There was this inside section that we used to be wary of, this rocky section that used to get pretty dry on the inside, and we used to always surf around it. Suddenly here’s MP and he’s on the inside and did this huge turn straight over it! It didn’t make any sense at all. You can’t turn over that section! It’s too heavy! We were like, oh my god! It was so amazing. We were just in shock. I remember later my brother, Nick who’d been surfing up the beach ran down babbling how he’d seen the exact same turn. He was pretty cut though that it was me who took MP surfing and not him. He idolised MP even more than I did. – Tom Carroll