The surfing community has paid tribute to former world No. 19 John Shimooka, who was found dead in his Sutherland Shire home on Monday morning.
He had recently turned 51.
Originally from Hawaii, Shimooka won a tour event in Japan in 1995 and was runner-up to American surfing icon Sunny Garcia at Bells that same year.
As reported by The Daily Telegraph, he moved to Cronulla in 1999 and has worked for Surfing NSW as a general manager of partnerships since 2018.
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Shimooka’s wife tragically passed away in 2019, and the couple leaves behind 21-year-old son Brandon.
Surfing NSW announced Shimooka’s passing on their Instagram page.
“The team at Surfing NSW is deeply distressed at the passing of one of our own, John Shimooka, in the early hours of Monday morning,’’ the statement said.
“A talented former world tour surfer, commentator and Jiu Jitsu black belt, ‘Shmoo’ was a much loved member of the global surfing community and the Surfing NSW family.
“He will be remembered for his passion for the lifestyle as well as his energy and enthusiasm.
“Everyone in our organisation joins his son, Brandon, immediate family, and his extended worldwide network of friends, in grieving his loss.
“It is our saddest day.
“We will commemorate and celebrate John’s life in the days and weeks to come.’’
American surfing great Kelly Slater posted an image of himself alongside a smiling Shimooka to his Instagram.
“My heart’s ripped out. I’m sorry, Shmoo,” Slater wrote. “I thought we had this.”
Australian surf legend Tom Carroll responded: “No sense. I thought so too. Shmoo RIP.”
Four-time world champion Lisa Anderson posted: “I’m lost for words. Hope you are at peace.”
Countless other professional surfers paid tribute to Shimooka on social media, including Mark Mathews, Ronnie Blakey and Cory Lopez.