Under a bright midday sun and with a sneaky fun bit of swell tickling the coast, several hundred people gathered at Hammonds Beach in Montecito this past Sunday to celebrate the life and lore of skateboard- and snowboard-industry titan Tom Sims. A longtime Santa Barbara–area resident, the 61-year-old Sims passed away at Cottage Hospital late last Wednesday night after suffering a massive heart attack.
Sims — who moved to Santa Barbara in 1971 from his childhood home of New Jersey (he was born in Los Angeles but raised in Haddonfield, NJ) and quickly took up residence in the fabled bohemian paradise of Mountain Drive — was both a world-champion rider and an industry-defining pioneer when it came to skateboards and snowboards. (He was pretty darn proficient on a surfboard, as well, a passion Sims was quick to credit for being the underpinning of all his other board-sport achievements).
In the mid ’70s, his Sims Skateboards company was arguably the biggest name in the game, while less than a decade later, his Sims Snowboards company enjoyed similar top-dog status in a sport he is widely credited for helping invent. Among Sims’s long list of career highlights and contributions to sideways sliding sports is making the first long-board skateboards (tested again and again by bombing down the foothills of Montecito and Santa Barbara), making the first metal-edged snowboard as well as the first freestyle snowboard, building the first snowboard half pipe at an actual ski resort, and serving as the snowboarding stunt double for Roger Moore in the opening scene of the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill.
The regular foot is survived by his wife, Hilary, sister Margie Klinger, daughter Sarah, sons Tommy and Shane, and step-daughters Alexa and Kylie Wagner.