Lifestyle still lures a former pro

Lifestyle: John Shimooka. Picture: John Veage
Lifestyle: John Shimooka. Picture: John Veage

JOHN Shimooka enjoys a lifestyle most can only dream about.

The Hawaiian-born Australian and Sutherland Shire identity — better known as "Shmoo" — spends much of his time as a commentator on the world pro surfing tour.

A former world top 20 pro surfer who grew up with 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and Sunny Garcia, Shimooka mixes surfing, martial arts, a few businesses and family life with his Australian-born wife Lisa and their son Brandon, 13, together with his regular travels.

"I can't complain about the lifestyle," he said after sharing the commentary at the recent Tradies Surfmasters at North Cronulla, before heading off to Hawaii for the final and crucial rounds of the world pro tour.

"I'm settled and enjoying the life I have. I wouldn't swap it, that's for sure."

It wasn't always that way, of course.

It was in the 1980s when Shimooka, who started surfing in primary school with a few others, including Kelly Slater, were billed as the "next big things" on the surf scene. And for a time, he was.

He won his first pro junior event (Hot Buttered) at 16, then on the pro tour won in Japan, finished runner-up at Bells Beach and grabbed a highest 18th ranking on tour.

"But I never put a whole season of pro surfing together," Shimooka admitted. "I lived a bit of rock'n'roll lifestyle."

Not unlike many other surfers of his times.

By 1999 he had retired from the pro circuit and settled in Sydney.

That's why he has enormous respect for Kelly Slater, as he tries to knock over the likes of Australian Joel Parkinson to win his 12th world crown.

"Kelly has led the way for so long, it is ridiculous," he said. "Even with boards, when he moved to four fins [from three] this year, he set the trend for others."

John Shimooka is setting trends too.

As he says: "My work isn't a chore."