The master. (Joli)

Tom Curren At J-Bay… Need We Say More?

“Everyone knew they were witnessing something special”

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Curren was there to surf against Occy in a Clash-of-the-Icons battle as a little side feature to the Billabong Pro World Tour event. No shit, I was more excited about seeing the Occy and Curren match-up than I was to compete at J-Bay. I was having a bit of meltdown at the time. I’d had a shitty run of results and a heat loss to Marco Polo in Brazil totally broke me.

I wasn’t in a good way. I’d let my hair get all dreaded and filthy, grew a massive beard and spent most of the first week of the waiting period hiding from people in the dunes meditating and watching the ocean.

The only thing that put a smile on my face each day was watching Curren surf Jeffreys. I’d grown up worshipping Tom, hammering VHS tapes of all his sections in Sonny Miller’s Rip Curl Search films*. I loved his mysto vibe and the way he could ride just about any board and make it work. So even in my defeated state I got psyched seeing Tom there.

I’ve definitely seen more high-performance surfing in my time but to me that isn’t necessarily the best surfing. Over the course of that first week at J-Bay I was freaking on Curren’s energy and I’ve never enjoyed watching someone else surf so much. He surfed those walls with pure style and drew cool lines I’d never seen with my own eyes. He was also surfing more than anyone else there.

Just watching him made me happy and pulled me out of my funk. When his heat with Occy rolled around it was a perfect offshore day with 4 to 5 foot walls running from Boneyards through Supers.

Everyone knew they were witnessing something special and the old boys didn’t disappoint. I got crazy goosebumps when they ran down to big screams and applause form the crowd.

Tom had this board from Channel Islands called “The Tangent” that looked to be a part of him. It was a normal 6’1” shortboard and he was doing all the turns that anyone on the WCT that year were doing. I would’ve freaked if he was in the contest and drew him in a heat.

Inspired by Tom’s surfing I got my head straight and had one of my best events before being totally ripped off against Joel Parkinson in the semis. Ha!

A couple of months later I travelled to India by myself to starve my inner demons on a full detox. I didn’t eat for a week and had two colonic irrigations a day for the duration of the 10 day trip. After that trip I realised that life on Tour was pretty damn good and I’ve been loving it ever since. Cheers Tom.

*On that note, it would be nothing short of sacrilegious to fail to mention his first ride at Jeffery’s Bay…

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Kai Otton