High-output Australian surf journalist and editor from Newport, New South Wales; Surfing magazine editor from 1993 to 1996; Deep magazine editor from 1997 to 2000; regarded by many since the mid-'80s as the sport's most popular and knowledgeable writer.
Carroll was born (1959) in Brisbane, Queensland, moved with his family to Newport in 1961, and began surfing at age 11. As a juniors division surfer he placed fifth in the 1976 Australia National Titles, and was runner-up in 1977; he was the men's division national champion in 1979 and 1981. Tom Carroll, Nick's younger brother, was world pro tour champion in 1983 and 1984.
After freelancing articles to the Australian surf press in the late '70s, Carroll was hired as an associate editor at Tracks magazine in 1981, and promoted to editor in 1983. He returned to freelancing in 1986, and for three years contributed sports and feature articles to the National Times and the Sydney Morning-Herald newspapers, while continuing to work for Australian and American surf magazines. In 1990 he moved to Capistrano Beach, California, and for seven years was a staff member at Surfing magazine, becoming editor in 1993. Three years later Carroll returned to Australia, where he remained Surfing's "global correspondent," edited Deep magazine, and contributed regularly to Australia's Surfing Life, Surfline, and other surf-media outlets.
Carroll writes in the italicized and exclamatory style of American New Journalism innovator Tom Wolfe, but his enthusiasm for surfing makes for a less cynical, less ironic voice. Although he once said he "didn't want to intellectualize surfing," Carroll—an expert in virtually every surfing-related subject, but returning often to board design, contest reportage, profiles, and wave-related meteorology—has in fact been one of surfing's smartest and most analytical writers. "It can hardly have escaped anyone's notice by now that the '90s have been the decade of Selling Youth," Carroll noted in "Reborn," a 1999 article for Surfing.
The world is now completely chock full of people who want to sell stuff to kids via other kids, and in doing so, to somehow convince everyone else that they have some unbreakable hold on what's Cool. And the surfing world, being about as Cool as it apparently gets, is no exception. If you're in a certain frame of mind, this relentless pursuit of Youth can look to be a truly frightening thing. The speed with which it's been incorporated! The brainpower exerted on the subject! The sheer ferocity with which the old go about making money from the young!
Carroll was named by Australia's Surfing Life in 1992 as one of the country's 50 most influential surfers. He's written, edited, or contributed to a number of surfing books, including How to Surf: The Complete Guide to Surfing (1986), The Next Wave (1991), Surf Rage (2000), and 30 Years of Flame (2005); and he's published articles in Rolling Stone, Playboy, Village Voice, Men's Journal, and Outside. Carroll was also the writer for the acclaimed 2009 documentary Bombora: the Story of Australian Surfing.
Carroll's work, by and large, has been non-controversial. The major exception was his 2010 "New Sarcasm" article for Kurungabaa, an Australian literary journal, in which Carroll called out anti-establishment surf bloggers, mostly for their lack of reporting skills and their "unwillingness to engage with surfing." As of 2013 he also regularly penned a mostly-agreed-with, at least according to the website's comments section, analysis of the pro tour for Surfline's Power Rankings column.
Carroll has always been one of the fittest surfers in the world, and in 2007, at age 48, he completed the tortuous 32-mile Quiksilver Mokokai-to-Oahu paddleboard race.
In 2013, Carroll co-wrote TC: Tom Carroll, his brother's biography, in which it was revealed to a mostly unknowing surf world that Tom had struggled with a crystal meth addiction in the mid-'00s.