Friday, 28 August 2009

The Search...

Let me take you back to early Spring 2002, if my memory serves me correctly. I had timed a day off work to coincide with a good swell, only when the day and the swell arrived, so did the inevitable wind screaming out of the south west.
With the sky overhead heavy with dark grey cloud, I headed over to Harlyn Bay in an effort to find shelter and ferret out some good waves. But an oversight on my part was, when I arrived it was a super high tide and the swell I had awaited, unloaded onto the sand dunes in one long line, stretching across the beach.
Then it struck me even if there was not much logic to it, go to St Agnes. I had not been out West for a while, so out to the Badlands I headed. Pulling into Trevuance Cove car park the first signs of surf looked good, then looking down from the vantage point I could see the wind and tide had receded and wedging right-handers were peeling across the bay. Also due to it being midweek, midday and outside of the holidays it was uncrowded. What followed was a session more than worthy of a day off. On my last wave, once it had closed out, I rode prone towards the beach and paddling out was no other than the evergreen, Tom Curren.
I was later to learn Tommy was here on a euro promo tour for Realm and that this day was the best waves of the trip. I hung around and watched as Curren provided a master class in style, power and all round mastery of surfing. He drew uncluttered lines with perfect body English all over the waves and dissecting each section with manoeuvres performed with surgical precision. Video does not capture the moment like seeing it for yourself.
Tom Curren needs no introduction and you could right several pages at least, on his influence on modern surfing including his tutoring of a young Kelly Slater. But less is appreciated of his influence on post modern surfboard design.
In 1993 Tom Curren reappeared at an ASP event in France after an hiatus from competition. With him he brought a 1969 5’4” Rick Twin Fin he had purchased second hand in New Jersey. The then ranked 8th in the world, Matt Hoy drew Curren in the 2nd round, which was held in onshore slop. Curren destroyed Hoy with a combination of blazing speed and power house tail slides on his fish and all Hoy could say was “why did he have to do that to me”. Curren then accidently brings the fish back to the attention of the masses, by appearing in the Rip Curl Search film “Beyond The Boundaries” riding various fishes. Going on the Fish Hunt he rides a Skip Frye fish at J Bay and the infamous Tommy Peterson shaped 5’7” hybrid “Fireball Fish”(which had three fins) in giant Indo waves, all around 1994.
He also had a period in the early nineties experimenting with single fin boards made with the same dimensions of a standard thrusters which he can be seen riding in Litmus. Also the back to front vee to concave bottom shape that Rich Pavel uses on his now famous “Speed Dialler” is a product of a Curren and Maurice Cole experimental period in France. Cole was shaping Curren a gun for Curren and in his confusion he shaped the bottom contours back to front by mixing the tail up with the nose due to the pintail making both ends look the same, so the board had vee in the nose and concave in the tail rather than vice versa. Since he had shaped it, Cole had it glassed up and Curren loved it, then later Pavel adopted the design for his own experiments.
Also known for bodysurfing to avoid the crowds and cameras, making music and being reticent to the point of reclusiveness. Curren's holistic approach to surfing is one of function and his feeling for surfing, so it’s no surprise his eclectic approach kick started a design revival.

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