From the Vault: Tom Curren Speaks

6 08 2009
The cutback that inspired a generion of surfer. Pic: Servais

The cutback that influenced a generation of surfers. Pic: Servais

*Note: The following interview took place just more than 10 years ago and was originally published in a now-defunct magazine I edited. At the time Tom Curren had dropped out of the completive scene for several years and was in the midst of a semi-comeback. I thought I would reproduce it here because of the recent Clash of the Icons event held at JBay. By all indications it was major success and there are rumors of another clash with Occy in the near future.

Tom Curren saunters unnoticed along the sand just south the Huntington Beach Pier. A surfboard rests under each of his arms while his toddler son, Francis, rests on his shoulders. Tom’s hair is cut into a short buzz. His eyes, covered by blue sunglasses, focus on the large surf generated by a hurricane southwest of Baja. He gently places his two-year-old son on the sand. Francis pulls at his shorts like a playful cat. Tom smiles and plays along.

Can you talk a little bit about your impending comeback or whatever you want to call it?
My impending doom?

What are you hoping to accomplish?
Just to do my best, you know. I’m not thinking about where I’m going to finish or anything like that.

You’ve had a little taste of how the tour is now. How would you say it differs from, say, the mid ’80s?
There’s a lot more people surfing in the contests. The equipment has changed a lot. The contest formats are pretty much the same. It’s just a little bit harder I guess.

What about the venues nowadays? There seems to push to have the contest in better waves. Does that excite you?
Yeah. It’d be great to have the opportunity to surf in better contests with better venues. That’s one of the goals I have…to be able to surf good waves with no one out. I didn’t really have that opportunity before.

Is it a goal of yours to qualify for the WCT again?
I’m going to surf some contests coming up. I’m going to Europe and surf the contests over there. I just enjoy competing and want to do as good as I can. Who knows what will happen? I don’t know. I’m working on my boards and I’m just going to try to surf as well as I can.

You mentioned your boards. You’re known for riding some un-conventional stuff. The boards you’ve been riding in these contests seem pretty normal.
Yeah, they’re pretty conventional. Pretty normal. Some are a little different. They have different outline curves, but the actual width and lengths are pretty conventional. There’s a lot that can be done with the normal dimensions…different bottom curves, outlines and stuff like that. But, I’m not riding a 5’7’’ or a four fin or anything like that now.

What do you think about Occy’s comeback? (*This was just before Occy cleaned himself up and won the world title)
I’m happy for him, I guess. I think he’s still surfing really well. He’s still pretty young you know. He’s about 30. If he wants to do the tour now he has plenty of years left to do it. I’ve always been impressed by his surfing. It’s good to see him. If I had him in a heat I would definitely take him very seriously.

Does he inspire you? Does he make you think “if he can do it so can I?”
I haven’t really looked at it that way. I think he has a lot of energy and skill. It takes that and it takes endurance. I think he’s more stable now, you know, and it looks like he’s going to do as good as he can. As far as inspiring me…I don’t know. I can’t really plan what I’m going to be doing as far as results in contests. All I can do is work on my boards, surf and practice. I can’t predict anything. I’m not going to let it get me down if I don’t re-qualify.

You have influenced a whole generation of surfers. How does that make you feel?
(long pause) It’s an honor I guess. There are a lot of other surfers out there and there’s a lot of emphasis on contest surfing. That’s all favorable to me. I just recognize there’s a lot more to surfing than contest surfing. I respect other surfers and what they are doing. And there are a lot of goods surfers out there.

You sound like you don’t want the attention on you. Is that the case?
Yeah, it is in a way, but you know I went through a bit of time doing other things, not really practicing, not really working on my surfing. But I think I feel better surfing everyday. I feel more at peace surfing than not surfing.

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2 responses

6 08 2009
SAMart

I hope they do another clash of the icons. It was great idea. Kudos to Nillabong for setting that up. Mundaka would be sweet.

28 01 2010
Video Time Machine: Searching for Tom Curren « Nugable

[…] classic Searching for Tom Curren. In this particular section, shot in Bawa, Sumatra, Curren ditches the gun for a 5′7″. As far as I know this video is not available on DVD. If you […]

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