Pat Curren has handed away on the age of 90. I am unsure there was a extra mystical surfer on this planet. Or a extra impenetrable one. Most of us, even these with a critical nostril for looking historical past, solely know the Cliff’s Notes model. A Mission Seaside, San Diego, child, he was there the day in 1957 when Oahu’s Waimea Bay was first surfed. Began shaping surfboards and discovered he was Michelangelo with a planer. Inside a couple of years, Curren was the world’s high builder of massive wave surfboards. “Pat was the primary man to provide the final word weapon,” stated huge wave browsing legend Fred Van Dyke. “Others made good all-round boards, however Pat made the stiletto, particularly for Waimea, the place all you wish to do is reside it from level A to B.”
Within the early ’60s, Curren spent a couple of years as a mainstay within the enormous Hawaiian surf. Then, in 1964, for what he is in all probability finest recognized for: he was the daddy of Tom Curren. The favourite surfer of each surfer between 55 and 30 years previous. Tom is arms down the good surfer in historical past. Quiet, demure, a Buddha with a shortboard, although one with an oddly darkish stripe. He is the epitome of the form of contentious, haunted genius who simply attracts hearts. He was additionally a chip off the previous block.
Pat was the template. Browsing was all the things, nevertheless it wasn’t sufficient. Two images by Pat Curren come to thoughts first. One is that he drops the face of a monster from the late ’50s in Waimea, legs unfold extensive, again straight, arms like an Egyptian hieroglyph. Absolute full and complete dedication to using a radical wave as quick as potential. Nothing else mattered. The opposite is of him shirtless, face down within the grime, sleeping subsequent to a automobile, empty liquor bottle in his again pocket.
Hawaii within the Nineteen Fifties was the form of place the place a younger surfer may reside on a 50 pound bag of rice and a field of ketchup, sleep in a cabin with 8 folks, surf all winter with none accountability for something however his personal drifts. There was an innocence then, rooted within the immense wave of reduction that swept the world in a post-war euphoria that our tradition has all however evaporated in the present day. Pat Curren was one of many demigods of that interval. Generally it appeared like that was all we wanted to find out about him.
His legend grew over the many years as the game turned extra tainted with commercialism, turned extra jock-like, extra contained. Pat Curren lived and thrived and shone in browsing’s most golden years, a interval of discovery and calm waves and browsing remains to be a comparatively small, distinctive subculture, which is why he’ll at all times be a legendary determine. Both he by no means cared, or he by no means knew the right way to reside exterior the second. Curren was by no means one to attempt to monetize what may have been a critical goldmine of “weren’t these days” nostalgia.
His later years are largely a blur. We all know he had Tom, and ten years later his second little one, Joe Curren, additionally a phenomenally gifted surfer, was born. He lived in Costa Rica, then Baja, maybe constructing boats, sculpting surfboards for connoisseurs, and largely avoiding any form of exterior scrutiny. In recent times he was recognized to reside in Southern California, however he nonetheless remained virtually fully absent from the prying eyes of the surf media. Actually the way in which he needed it.
But he goes down as one of many absolute greats. There have been shapers making higher boards and surfers using larger waves, however like Tom Blake earlier than him, Pat Curren confirmed us all what it actually meant to place browsing first, confirmed us what made that potential and what it price. Earlier than that he was a hero.
High photograph: By way of Encyclopedia of Browsing. Credit score: unknown