Tom Sims Was One of the Good Ones
As you've probably heard by now, legendary surfer, skateboarder, and snowboarder Tom Sims passed away at his Santa Barbara ranch on Wednesday from a heart attack. A lot of people try to be original, but Tom was the real deal. He started surfing as a youngster in New Jersey and saw skateboarding for the first time on a family trip to California. When he got back east he made his own skateboard and, later that winter, frustrated by the icy Jersey streets, he created one of the world’s first snowboards. He was 12. A couple of years ago, while at his home filming an episode of Powder and Rails, Tom went into his garage and showed me a plethora of skateboards he had built over the decades. Every one of them was inspired by surfing. He showed me how the boards were designed for doing bottom turns down the street, and explained that he always used the best urethane wheels so he could cut into the cement like it was a wave. Sims had a legendary team in the mid-70s, including Christian Hosoi, Jeff Phillips, and Lester Kasai.
Keeping in line with the revolutionary trends he started in skateboarding, years later Tom founded Sims snowboards. That team was equally impressive, feature rippers like Terry Kidwell, Shaun Palmer, Chris Roach, and Noah Salasnek. Going back into his garage, Tom dusted off some of his snowboards and lined them up so I could see how they had progressed from year to year. He talked about how he and his friends tore the edges off of old skis and pounded them onto the boards so they could turn better on hard-packed snow. Later, Tom would take that idea to the next level by being the first to incorporate metal edges on professionally-manufactured snowboards.
Of course, he was in that James Bond movie too. Tom laughed as he told me how he made a $100 bet with each crew member that he would ride across that glacier pond in the Swiss Alps. He did it first try, and when they got down from the mountain he went straight to the bar and bought $2,000 worth of drinks for everyone. What did he do with the money he got for being Roger Moore's stunt double? Spent it all on a BMW so he could cruise from surf break to skate spot to powder run with that sweet hairdo and killer mustache.
R.I.P. Tom Sims. “Pure Juice” forever.