If you’re looking for fucks, stay away from Tom Curren. He has none to give. I think I’ve always known this. His mysterious persona, inimitable style and even his Instagram account (@curfuffle) all support the enigmatic character we’ve never really known, and loved anyway. But his indifference for the norm really hit home a few months ago, when I saw him on the deck of a beachfront hotel in Mexico, roller skating.
He wears them, he said, because the movements and balance associated with roller skating isolate those tiny muscles in your feet and ankles, strengthening and warming them up before surfing. I use the term “surfing” loosely, however, because when Tom paddled out to the overhead, sand-bottom pointbreak, he did so on a skimboard.
How’d that happen? Apparently, Tom was intrigued with some of Brad Domke’s skimboarding he’d seen online (you remember Brad). The two connected — a three-time world champ and a big-wave skimboarder — and hit it off, and are now joining forces for a video project about surfing and skimming and experimental equipment. On this trip (there’ve been a few), Tom brought his wife along and Brad had his girlfriend, big-wave surfer Emi Erickson (Double date of the year?). I was already in the lineup with Brad, who was riding a standard shortboard, when Tom paddled out. Although it looked more like swimming, as the thin skim wasn’t sufficiently buoyant to float him.
The buoyancy issue was exacerbated by Tom’s wardrobe, which consisted of long pants, a long sleeve shirt, a tank top and a round-brimmed hat with flaps on it. The extra gear served its purpose, protecting his skin from the stifling Oaxacan sun, but it probably added another five pounds of dead weight to his kit. Still, it’s Tom Curren, and he stalked the inside double ups with the buzz of a man experiencing an old thing in a new way. He’d ride, he’d rip, he’d fall, he’d swim. At one point during the session he went in for an equipment swap, returning on a miniscule Tomo Vader. The board would be enough to turn heads in any normal lineup, but for Tom, on that day, it seemed almost straight edge.
To review: roller skates, skimboard, pants, longsleeve shirt, hat, tank top, Tomo. All used while working on a project with a guy that much of the surf world had written off as a gimmick. There are so many life and surfing lessons to learn here! Be yourself. Don’t worry about what other people think. Ride what keeps things fun and interesting. Don’t judge a book by its cover because Tom Curren might later befriend that book and make you feel foolish for being so narrow-minded. It’s just all very exciting. We’re growing, as surfers, aren’t we? As people. Can you feel it? Zoltan Torkos, keep your phone near you, bud. Taylor Knox is sure to call soon. —Taylor Paul