Tom Curren’s father was Pat Curren, once a well-known big wave rider in his own right—and a legendary surfboard shaper. Maybe that was why he learned to surf at such an early age. Curren was born in 1964 in Santa Barbara, California. He had a sister, Anna, and a brother, Joe, who became a professional surfer as well. Even though he was raised mostly by his mother, it was his father, Pat, who taught him to surf—at Rincon Point near where he lived in Santa Barbara.
Curren was a naturally introverted personality—but he thrived on competition. He performed well in the NSSA; by 1983, at the age of 19, he was beating veteran surfers including Cheyne Horan, Shaun Tomson, and Rabbit Bartholomew.
By 1985, he had earned his first world title. He earned two others—in 1986 and 1990—and eventually achieved a reputation as one of surfing’s true geniuses.
In the mid-90’s, he retired from surfing at the height of his abilities—a decision that served to preserve his reputation as one of the best surfers in the world.
Curren is known for a smooth, powerful style that combines speed and muscularity with a hypnotic kind of grace. He’s also known for his unassuming public persona—he tends to stay away from the spotlight and keeps his private life private, even though he is very competitive and driven—and seeks out every opportunity to win.
Despite his early retirement, Curren still sometimes can be seen surfing in high-profile contests. He still appears in the ASP World Qualifying Series from time to time, and has been invited to surf as a wildcard competitor in the World Championship Tour (WCT) several times. He has also recently competed in the Annual Switchfoot Bro-Am competition as a member of the Switchfoot team.
Tom Curren built a career in five years that still has an impact on the surfing community. His competitive drive gave him the edge he needed to establish himself as one of the world’s top surfers, and his surfing style is all his own. Despite his early retirement from high-profile competition, his legacy his still felt—and he is still an inspiration for today’s top competitors.
Video of Tom Curren online
- Surfing Sandspit in 2005
- Surfing Backdoor, Pipe and Sunset Beach Hawaii
- Tom Curren v Tom Carroll 1986 Stubbies Pro Final
Selection of DVDs Featuring Tom Curren
- One Track Mind (2008)
- Surfers: The Movie – Then and Now (2008)
- Bustin’ Down the Door (2008)
- One California Day (2007)
- Endless Summer 2 (2007)
Photos of Tom Curren
- Tom Curren photos on Flickr
- Tom Curren photos on Google Images
- Tom Curren page on Surfing Hall of Fame website
- Check out Sean Davey’s photography blog here
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