Tom Curren, J-Bay 19th July, 2014

Did you watch the ASP J-Bay Open, live online? Specifically the Occy vs Curren heat?

I've warmed to the ASP World Tour over the years, realising that it promotes and helps the sport to support itself when surf companies are struggling to survive and it also, due to it's competitive nature, gives us surfing moments with a drama that otherwise wouldn't exist. (Who can forget Slater unbelievably emerging from that 'Perfect 10' scoring barrel at Hossegor 2010?) The excitement is further enhanced for me by the fact that my Fantasy Surfer team is currently seventh overall! Anyway, I was looking forward to J-Bay anyway.

It also happened that I watched the surf movie "Instruments of Change" by Simon Saffigna the other day. We all know, or should, a bit about Tom Curren and Mark Occhilupo. It was Tom Curren who I was interested in though. I've been amazed by the style of his famous 'first wave' of his at J-Bay (his smooth bottom turns appear 'jet-propelled'!) ever since reading about it in Tom Anderson's wonderful book "Riding the Magic Carpet". I'm still dying to see the Rip Curl "Search" movie, so if anyone can help me get a copy on DVD I'd be eternally grateful. I've loved Tom's surfing in other films like "Idiosyncrasies", however, I wasn't prepared for what a pleasure "Instruments of Change" is. Especially as an older surfer it's really compelling to watch the seasoned style and warm stoke of Curren and Occy - not to mention Gary Elkerton (filmed getting a bomb of a barrel!) compared directly with the jumpy, staccato performance surfing of the groms they take with them (Pat Curren, Kalani Ball and Keanu Asing). The ability of these elder statesmen, with their new-found middle-aged girth (of varying degrees), is astounding and it's beautiful to watch; not to mention inspiring to middle-aged surfers like me. Not only is the surfing great, but it's beautifully filmed with the camera following them from just behind the lip of the wave, I guess filmed from a jetski or something, but it felt like something I'd not quite seen before and really makes you feel like you're following the surfers along the wave.

So, because of this, I made sure I was sitting down to watch the Curren vs Occy heat live on my laptop. I'm not kidding - Curren's first good wave nearly brought a tear to my eye. After watching the current pros lose their positioning and make mistakes the unbelievable fluid precision with which Curren negotiated his a wave was just mesmerising. To see someone combine such style along with a scientist's eye for trajectory was exciting and an education - and at fifty years of age on good sized pumping J-Bay walls! Curren's 10 scoring wave that rocked up next though was unbelievable. It was surfing unfolding - live - in a way that seemed unimaginable. It's perhaps, for me, the greatest sporting live event I've ever watched. I don't quite know why I feel so emotional about it but it felt like watching his first J-Bay wave, combined with Michael Peterson's cutback, Hynson & August surfing Cape St Francis and Miki Dora surfing Malibu, but LIVE. It felt like the history I would've loved to be part of being performed in front of me: now. Something significant. Dear Tom Curren: thankyou! And thankyou J-Bay for showing up with a well-timed swell and rubbing out the plague of air-reverses.

Now if you haven't watched that wave then watch it now. And then watch it again…


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