May 14th, 2010



Cape Town, South Africa (14 May 2010) – There have been some crazy happenings down in the Cape recently, with lots of shark activity on the False Bay side and even official warnings from the Shark Spotters about heightened great white activity. But around the corner on the Sea Point side, there’s been a strange sighting that has perplexed both curious locals and shark experts alike.


Perhaps it has to do with the Thermopylae pollution or just perhaps the general wackiness of Cape Town, but initial reports described the enigmatic creature as a human/tiger shark hybrid – those in the know, however, have identified it as the product of mad scientist and eccentric Sea Point surfer Tom Caitlin.


“What happened was, well, I’ve got a man cave,” explains Tom, a shoe wholesaler and part time scientist specializing in experimental marine biology. “Every guy has got a man cave where he fixes something, stores linen, goes to get some time away from the wife. It’s very close to my heart, and I go there on Saturdays after surf with a bottle of whiskey to read surf mags, and work on my projects. So I decided to make a shark’s head and got to work on a chicken wire frame surrounded by fiberglass. The teeth are made of foam and the eyeballs are from a squashball cut in half. The whole thing took about 3 weeks”.


As with many scientific experiments, failures in the lab can lead to injury and possibly even death to the poor scientist, and Professor Tom Caitlin didn’t come away completely unscathed himself. “I bought a filter,” he says, “which is like a gas mask. You need this while working with all the polyurethane fumes. Now, I was basically breathing them in for 2 weeks with the door closed. I ended up with lacerations on the inside of my lungs because I had not put the filters onto the mask properly!”


Tom had to go to the doctor and was put on a prescription of antibiotics to help his troubled lungs. Still, undeterred, he went back to the man-cave lab and proceeded to finish his masterwork.


“I live in the same block as Justin Strong,” says Tom, “and he walked past with his baby one day and he was amazed by the shark’s head and told me to show it to him when it was done. So when that day came around a friend and I spray-painted ourselves – we sprayed his bald head blue and my face pink, so there was this blue smurf and this pink faced thing running around this quiet, well to do Jewish community. They don’t like too much noise in my complex, and next thing I feel a tapping on my sharks head – it was the caretaker. The moment he saw me he called everyone to come look, but as soon as they saw what was going on they refused to look at me because my testicles were sticking out of the wetsuit g-string. So I went up to the 9th floor to show Justin, and we ended up getting a shot that he took of me where my balls are literally hanging out.”


All in the name of science.


“I put the shark’s head aside for a while, and I shaped myself a 7’2 step up board – with a ‘tiger shark’ design on it. After surfing Silverstroom, my friend Dan cut my wetsuit quite hectically in the back – the cut was so high it was like a g-string. Anyway, I went for a surf at Thermos in this thing. I paddled out at low tide and it was freezing because I was wearing practically no rubber. It was a very tough paddle and on the way out a 3-foot wave broke on me, so I actually had to bail the board while I held on to shark suit. There were loads of guys on the side of the road going “what is this ou doing??” and a bunch of surfers in the water who couldn’t believe what they were seeing. I also made a flag out of cardboard but I couldn’t paddle out with because I was being annihilated by the sets. I made it to the back and caught one wave, which was really difficult because the shark’s head had filled with water. I just just made it to the flat section because it was closing out and I managed to go straight and come in.”


So what was Tom Caitlin’s crazy escapade in aid of? What is the meaning of this? Is it the poignant tale of one man’s struggle to come to terms with the human condition in the dawn of the 21st century, or was there another motive behind his actions?


“A friend told me I should put the Hurley logo on and enter their competition,” explains the good professor, “so we sprayed a logo on the suit and another friend Anton du Preez took some photos.”


Hurley’s Win A Trip To California competition runs until June 15th, so there’s still plenty of time to head over to http://www.hurley.co.za/ and put together your most creative entry and stand a chance to attend the Hurley US Open of Surfing first hand.




Pictured: The Hurley Tiger Shark in action at Thermos

Photos: Anton du Preez


NB: High resolution versions of these images are available rights free to Media outlets


Issued on behalf of:


Hurley South Africa
Liam Wood
Hurley Team Manager
Tel: 021 426 5212


Compiled by:


Craig Ritchie




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