The subject of a soon-to-be-published biography, during his incredibly productive life, John Whitmore:
- Pioneered skin diving and spearfishing in Cape Town in the late 1940s and helped to start the city’s first diving clubs.
- Was the first person to surf a wave upright on a modern surfboard on the entire West Coast of Africa in the early 1950s.
- Produced the first polystyrene foam surfboard in Cape Town in 1954 and shaped the first polyurethane surfboard in 1964.
- Created South Africa’s first surfing brand, Whitmore Surfboards, Pty. Ltd.
- Discovered dozens of remote, deserted surf breaks in South Africa, many of which now are thriving towns that depend on surfing and tourism for a living, including St Francis, Jeffreys Bay and Elands Bay.
- Profoundly impacted the success of Bruce Brown’s epic surfing movie The Endless Summer and became one of the film’s break out stars, becoming world famous in the process.
- Founded the Western Province Surfing Association and South African Surfriders Association.
- Secured Springbok colours for competitive surfers and presided over both associations for a decade.
- Influenced world surfing as a member of the International Surfing Federation executive.
- Coached and managed Springbok surfers to great success at several ISF world championships.
- Was appointed founding President of the South African Long Distance Swimming Association in 1969.
- Paved the way for South African first surfing world champions, including Shaun Tomson (IPS) and Ant Brodowicz (ISA) in 1977 and 1978 respectively.
- Hosted South Africa’s first and most popular national radio surf and weather report every morning for more than 20 years.
- Introduced Hobie Catting to South Africa.
- Created a world class Hobie Cat manufacturing concern in Cape Town.
- Founded the Hobie Cat racing class in Southern Africa and hosted hundreds of regattas in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
- Led South African Hobie Catting to the country’s first international yachting world title in the form of Mick and Colin Whitehead in Texas in 1978.
- Obtained Springbok colours for select South African Hobie Cat national team members.
- Brought the Hobie World Championships to South Africa in 1979 and Mauritius in 1987.
- Paved the way for South Africa to win more world titles and boast more higher place finishes in Hobie world events than any other country in Hobie Cat history.
- Introduced Morey Boogie bodyboards to South Africa.
- Set up a Morey Boogie factory in Cape Town.
- Motivated the formation the South African Bodyboarding Association and its first SA Champs
- Paved the way for South African Andre Botha to win the country’s first bodyboarding world title in 1998.
- Mentored hundreds of South African surfboard shapers, competitive surfers, Hobie Catters, bodyboarders, boat builders and fibreglass craftsmen et al.
- Hand made exquisite and much sought after knives praised by the top Knife Guild craftsmen in his latter years.
- Was a successful salesman, entrepreneur, craftsman, businessman, father, friend and family man, whose myriad pioneering actions resonate to this day.
There are, of course, many other reasons John Whitmore deserves legend status, enough to fill a book.
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