Surf legend Tom Curren recently joined a LUEX Travel Maldives boat trip as surf coach, scoring some great waves from the beautiful yacht ‘Gurahali.’ Towards the end of the trip LUEX CEO Tim Heising sat down to interview Tom, about everything from his favourite retro boards, to surfing skimboards and the challenge of balancing family life with a professional surfing career.
Tim said about the trip: “Surfing with Tom was such an awesome experience. He doesn’t really need an introduction – he’s for sure one of the legends of the surfing world. Everyone’s seen the videos of his soul carves at JBay back in the day… Most of the time he’s just such a genuine and down to earth guy, but when he gets in the water he really does rip – somehow even surfing the open faces on a skimboard!
Tim H: Hey Tom. Great to have to have you on the trip
Tom C: Thank you! It’s awesome. It’s amazing. Beautiful boat, and everything.
Tim H: You are one of the few guys who have really seen board shapes evolve: you’ve been riding single fins, twin fins, thrusters, quad fins, everything, right? What kind of boards from the old times are you missing the most, or are you taking out the most?
Tom C: Right now I’ve been starting to ride twin fins again, so that’s been a lot of fun. The thing about twin fins is that they just really have a lot of drive, and they’re a little bit hard to control. But around 1979, I think, was when I started riding twin fins. That changed everything ‘cos we were riding single fins before, and then this year I happened to try out a couple of twin fins that were really fun – a little hard to ride backhand. But I’ve tried twin fins, on like a modern board, and on some of the new fun shapes it works really well. Single fins are a lot of fun but, you know, it’s just a different thing. You don’t expect to get the same out it as a regular conventional 3 fin.
Tim H: And do you use old shapes when you take out your twin fins, or do you combine more modern shapes with twin fin set ups?
Tom C: Actually I’ve been trying more of a modern shape. I have this one board that I tried called a Wizard Sleeve. It’s an Al Merrick design, and basically it has kind of a rounder nose on it, and a little bit more width forward, which is kinda like what a twin fin is. Overall a twin fin set up doesn’t work as well on a regular thruster, so if you just put twin fins on a regular 3 fin set up board, it will work, but it wont work as well. So you want kind of the wide point forward.
Tim H: Tell me a little bit about the Tomo boards that you’re riding. I’ve seen that you’re using a couple of Tomo boards?
Tom C: Yeah, the boards Daniel (Thomson) is making now. I have a 5’2 and a 5’6, seems pretty small but there’s enough volume and they’re made from extruded polystyrene, so they tend to float more than polyurethane foam [boards]. Daniel’s a really good surfer and he’s made a lot of experimental shapes, and it’s great to see what he’s doing. I really like the parallel aspect of the boards because you can really, they just seem to go faster, I think. So I think he’s got some kind of breakthrough there because he’s gone real narrow but the board is more parallel. So I think what he’s doing – it’s not perfect – but it’s maybe an advance.
Tim H: And I’ve seen you using very small boards, basically skimboards, is that right? That’s pretty amazing. How long have you been doing that? I mean not just riding them in the shore break, but riding them in the big open surf.
Tom C: I started riding stand up on a boogie board and it was kind of a fun thing to do at home in the summer. The boogie board is, I think, one of the greatest inventions ever because its just an amazing piece of equipment: so small, so simple right, and it has the flex, and you know it just works amazing and people are doing great things with the boogie board. So if you get in the right waves you can get a good ride, but now the skim boards. I was surfing with Brad Domke in Mexico, and just kinda watching what he’s doing, trying to figure out how he does it, because he’s really surfing the wave with the board like a surfboard. The key is the edge is really hard, so it stays in the wave face and you don’t need fins as much with that really hard edge; it holds in so the fun thing about it is you can go really fast, but the hard part is that, y’know its obviously very hard to paddle. I use a soft board to catch the waves and stuff, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s hard too, so I like the challenge I guess.
Tim H: So if you were to go on a boat trip with your friends, no promotions, no photographers, nobody on it, were would you go?
Tom C: Wow, that’s a great question. A boat trip. Where I live is actually really good for boat trips, you know. Santa Barbara is kinda ideal to have a boat, ‘cos especially in the summer there’s a lot of waves on the islands, but the islands are in front of the town and so I haven’t had a chance to do much of going out on a boat trip at home. So I would maybe try to do that actually. And of course the places like here – the Maldives – are absolutely incredible. The water colour is, I think the bluest water I’ve ever seen actually, and the waves are good: you get a good swell and you get barreled all day. It’s a bit far, but it’s definitely worth it.