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“Someone needs to go to speak to these people and research it to get the true story.” – John Whitmore, discussing his life story in his final interview, a family recording made shortly before his death in 2001.

Portrait by Nick Aldridge. Main image top Dick Metz.

Hi. My name is Miles Masterson, but most of my friends call me Milo. With equal time both in the surf industry and straight up corporate jobs, I have been working in print and digital media for 28 years, chiefly as an editor and journalist, but also as a publisher, photographer, content marketer and author. Penguin Random House published my first book, How To Surf (ISBN 978 0 143 024415), in 2009.

I am a total surf junkie and grew up on the Atlantic Seaboard of Cape Town, entering the sport as a young grom in an era when John Whitmore was at the height of his powers. I am thus keenly aware of how famous he was and how much he accomplished in his life – as well how much he influenced the lives of so many others.

My belief has always been unwavering that there are enough people keen to read about the biography of John Whitmore out there – at least a few thousand. So I have created this humble WordPress website to share with you and make the case for why a biography on John is a project worth backing, but also to showcase the enormous depth of my research and the massive effort I have put into this project so far. 

This includes more than 120 interviews (here), as well as the compilation of a massive material archive (here) and photographic library (here).

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John’s close friendships with his American counterparts Dick Metz, Hobie Alter, Bruce Brown, Gordon Clark, Tom Morey and many others contributed to his success as a sports promoter and businessman in South Africa, as well as his global fame. Image opening DPS of an 18-page feature on John by the author in The Surfers Journal, 2010.

John’s life story simply should be told, not just for posterity but also because it is a cracking story, packed with pioneering surf discovery, entrepreneurial vision, competitive sporting intrigue and more. I’ve composed it as an action-packed adventure tale and I truly hope the resultant book will be highly enjoyable for everyone, one that you will not be able to put down and will return to read again and again.

Fortunately, I have the full support of John’s extended family and close remaining friends in my quest to document the life of John Whitmore. Indeed, I would like to thank everyone who has assisted me and believed in this project so far (listed in full on the Interviews page – see end of the page here).

I’d also like to build up some momentum and garner further support this year, to build a community consisting of those who want to see this project happen – which is where you come in. If you would really like to see the John Whitmore Book Project come to life, you can play a part. Please help us to ensure that John’s amazing legacy and the largely untold histories of several watersports in South Africa is recorded in forever in print.

Sign up to our newsletter, to receive notice of future blog updates (see here) and outtakes from the book, as well as exclusive offers we will introduce soon – including Whitmore branded products.

Please also share the cause with your networks, and let us know if you can contribute to our research or photographic archive. You can also contact us to make a financial contribution or back the project through a donation (click here) or sponsorship (click here), or to offer any other kind of support (please click the link to support page here and below).

Otherwise, please take a tour of this site and play a small part in creating something unique and special this year: The John Whitmore Book Project.

Miles Masterson

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About the Author

After completing a journalism course at Cape Technikon in 1992, I began my career as the Associate Editor of Wavelength surfing magazine in Newquay in the United Kingdom. I returned home to Cape Town in 1995, where I scored a cool job as assistant to professional surfing and lifestyle photographer Lance Slabbert – and at the same time worked as freelance journalist for a few years, chiefly for local and overseas surfing magazines.

In late 1997, along with Craig Sims of Zigzag surfing magazine, we co-founded the award-winning blunt magazine, a publication covering surfing, skateboarding and other extreme sports, as well as music and youth culture. blunt won numerous awards and became one of the fastest growing and most successful magazines and youth brands in South Africa in the late 90s and early 2000s. I became Managing Editor and Associate Publisher of the magazine, as well as a shareholder, Director and Board Member of parent company Atoll Media (eventually acquired by Media24), which also owned Zigzag and Saltwater Girl surfing magazines.

After 10 years at Atoll Media, I left to freelance as a journalist, editor and photographer. During this period my book How To Surf was published, and I was bylined in national newspapers, including the Sunday Times, and magazines such as Sports Illustrated. My work has also been printed in magazines worldwide, including an 18-page article on the subject of my book, John Whitmore, in the leading American surfing magazine, The Surfer’s Journal. In 2010 I was also selected as a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards in the environmental feature writing category for a piece I wrote for Men’s Health on plastic pollution in the oceans.

I then moved to the Middle East to take a post as Executive Editor of The Edge, a business magazine in the Gulf country of Qatar. Here I was also involved in setting up a contract publishing and content marketing agency in print and digital, which published several corporate magazines, newsletters, books and websites. I have since returned to South Africa, where I have started a digital agency – Masterson Communications – and of course continued working in my spare time toward completing my biographical book on John Whitmore.

For a small slice of my experience as a journalist, writer and media professional to date, please click on any image in the gallery above.

So why am I the one doing this? Well, apart from my writing and editing career – and my time in the surf industry, where have many connections both at home and overseas – I have been a devoted surfer for 40 years.

I grew up on the Atlantic Seaboard of Cape Town, and attended high school in Camps Bay. I am well-acquainted with many of John Whitmore’s family members, including the Bjergfelts, Paarmans and Krauses (all of whom have endorsed and support this biography). I also know many of John’s close friends and the hordes of athletes, factory workers and administrators that he mentored and influenced throughout his life.

Indeed, the idea for this book came from a conversation with John’s youngest daughter Sian in 2009, and I have been working on it off and on since then. I believe my career path, along with my personal history, has positioned me well to tackle John Whitmore’s life story. I know the places, people and history of his life intimately. I have all the necessary insight, insider knowledge and contacts and have conducted more than 120 interviews with those that knew him – and I have researched in exacting detail all the additional information to needed produce this biography, including several trips to the National Library and Cape Archives.

Now nearing completion, I will be publish this book by the end of 2023. Please click here or below to find out how you can get involved or step up to support The John Whitmore Book Project.

Many thanks,

Miles Masterson, March 2023

Subscribe and follow the John Whitmore Book Project

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(To return to the home page, please click here.)

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