From around 1987 until about 1992, Tom Carroll was one of the best guys at Pipeline. He was so good other people would get out to watch. That caliber of surfing is rare. Gerry had that affect. Kelly had it for a long time. John John has it now.
Tom just surfed so much harder than anyone else. He’s a little guy, but he’s built like a tree stump. Tom’s a powerhouse, obviously, but he separated himself with his grace under pressure, especially in Hawaiian surf.
Everyone remembers “the snap,” but that was in the semi-finals. Tom was even better in the final.
His peak was in the ’91 Pipe Masters. The wave everyone remembers was “the snap,” but that was in the semi-finals. Tom was even better in the final.
I was sitting on the picnic benches at Ehukai, and saw Tom haul into a 12-foot, macking, stinking tube. An obvious 10.
The other guys in the heat were Derek Ho, Gary Elkerton, and Barton Lynch. All heavies at Pipe, and they could’ve just paddled in after that. Tom had unbelievable rail control. It was stunning.