Gold Coast bodyboarding prodigy Tom Rigby has parted ways with longtime sponsor Science Bodyboards and mentor Mike Stewart.
Science Bodyboards Australian distributor and team manager John Cruikshank (the Boog Co.) confirmed Rigby has left team Science to pursue a career outside of bodyboarding.
“Tom wants to move on to the next part of his life,” Cruikshank said.
“He still wants to be a bodyboarder but it is not a priority for him. He has moved to Melbourne to study and pursue a different career.
“We had a simple conversation and, at the end of the day, myself and Mike (Stewart) were feeling like we needed more out of him as a main rider. But he felt like he wanted to focus on other things.
“It was for the best for everyone and there are no hard feelings amongst us. We hope he doesn’t completely walk away from bodyboarding because we love his style and his surfing.”
It brings to an end an almost 10-year-old partnership between Rigby and Science, with Mike Stewart first recognising the talented Gold Coaster when he was just 13 years old.
Since then Rigby has been regarded as one of the best next generation of bodyboarders coming out of Australia, winning the Grom of the Year at the Riptide Peer Poll for three consecutive years.
At the age of 18, Rigby proved he could mix it up with the world’s best, with a runner-up finish at the 2011 Pipeline Pro to Hawaiian aerial maestro Jeff Hubbard.
Rigby’s Science Pro Model board has also been one of the company’s best sellers year in, year out in Australia.
The 22-year-old’s departure now leaves a big hole in the Science Bodyboards pro team, with many wondering who will step up to take his place.
Cruikshank told Riptide that team Science will not rush into finding a new marquee rider.
“We have strategies in place to see what we are going to do,” he said.
“We’re definitely not going to sit still and we’ve had a lot of riders asking.
“Tom has been holding that spot for a while. What we need is someone who wants to go bodyboarding as much as Mike (Stewart) and myself. What we need are passionate people who want to get in the water and we’re going to be able to assist someone to do that.
“This isn’t a bad thing. It is just someone realising that they want to do something else and focus on it. If anything, (Tom leaving) has just opened the door for a lot of new guys to have a crack.”
Watch this space…
As a tribute to Tom. Here is his latest clip, “Internet Worthy” edited by Dave Fox