A man who mastered the art of getting by and going surfing.
Obituaries are normally written for people whose life was considered significant, people who made a difference and people who were different.
Shaun Stanley Smith (Smurf) who passed away this week - wasn't really significant and he didn't make much of a difference but he sure was different.
Born in 1956 on the 4th of July the agile young Smurf was a gymnast and a sailor but it was the surfing life that consumed him.
His childhood friend Frank Williams told of the days they would both carry Franks heavy second hand 9'6 Gordon Woods to the beach-Shaun on the front-impatiently waiting for his turn doing cartwheels on the beach.
An agile goofy-footer who never fell off, he made his name going left at Cronulla Point pulling into first reef barrels and never getting his hair wet.
He was a switchfoot as well as a glue foot and fellow legendary Point surfer Gary Hughes said he was certainly one of a kind - a friend, funny, fun-loving, and unique.
" Shaun was a genuine character and legendary surfer from Cronulla who never fell-off. We all grew up together in a great time, and a free and wonderful, wild, watery world, " Gary said.
Smurf was undoubtedly one of the most infamous Cronulla characters. I've known him my whole surfing life, and I first saw him sweeping the Peter Clarke surfboard factory floor in 1975.
This could also have been the last time he ever had a real job – he actually got through his entire life without paying any tax.
After some experiences in the early 70s with mind-altering substances – hallucinogenic mushrooms – Shaun was committed to an institution where he duly escaped by stealing the Warden’s car and driving to the Queensland border without a license.
He was given a disability pension, which allowed him live the life of a surfing nomad. He's lived in a cave, in the bush, an abandoned Kombi and many an unsuspecting person’s laundry.
Smurf was one of the inhabitants of the dodgy, Cronulla Miami Apartments and just like his great, late mate, Richard Herbert, he could put all his life possessions in a single bag.
Shaun hitched across Australia surfing Cactus and Margaret's sleeping rough and becoming a beatnik local wherever he went.
He famously saved all his dole money in 1984 and escaped to Bali and live the surfer’s dream – it’s amazing he ever came home. He returned to the Island of the Gods in the 90s when after washing cars for cash to pay for the trip.
He didn't eat much and slept with a toaster next to his bed. His was a life without temporal boundaries, which meant he had no need for a clock. Shaun read the newspaper and surf magazines cover to cover and he could sit on a schooner for an hour until someone went to the bar.
He was best known for smelling a free beer at any boardriders presentation, party or product launch. He would turn up first and be the last to leave. He came to my 40th birthday with a longneck, stayed all night and left clutching the same bottle. "I'll drink this tomorrow," he said.
Shaun played pool with the legendary Eddie Charlton at Cronulla RSL club and was a Life Member of Cronulla Point Boardriders – quite an achievement for a man who never paid his fees.
Shaun had stopped surfing and moved north to Byron Bay a few years ago. He left us in the way he would've wanted – peacefully in his sleep after being diagnosed a month before with lung cancer. Since his passing everyone from Mark Occhilupo to Gary Green has reached out to pay their respects.
He leaves behind two children and grandchildren, and as his son, Rhys eulogized, "Dad-your legacy will always live on. Your legend will always be told."
Rest in Peace.
John Veage is the…
Founding Life Member Cronulla Boardriders Club
Life Member Surfing Sutherland Shire
Cronulla Beaches National Surfing Reserve committee member
Surfrider Foundation Cronulla committee member