Watch Tom Curren Surfing A Perfect Mexican Pointbreak - Stab Mag
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Watch Tom Curren Surfing A Perfect Mexican Pointbreak

“Free Scrubber” might be the surf film the world needs right now.

cinema // Jan 27, 2021
Words by Alistair Klinkenberg
Reading Time: 4 minutes

All photos by Andy Potts

“In light of all of this mondo swell rampage and He-Man testosterone gnarliness, maybe there couldn’t be a better time to watch a fifty-year-old surfing a two foot point break,” says Vaughan Blakey, director in charge of making sense of a hard drive full of Tom Curren’s COVID sessions, aka “Free Scrubber”.

Vaughan needs little introduction here, but one thing to note us just how much he still loves surfing. You can hear it in his voice when he says that he got the footage of Tom Curren posted up in Mexico last year from Andy Potts and went “what the fuck am I even looking at!?” Vaughan says that Curren’s raw lines got him as “pumped” as they did when he first saw them as a boy. 

Can’t seriously think of anyone we’d rather watch lap that track. (Photo by Andy Potts)

“It was the full blown funnest surfing to watch,” he says. “It was such a joy and so refreshing to watch someone surfing not to get a clip or blow your mind or hit a section. Nothing but pure Current flow. I was mesmerised.”

As well as hours of Curren winding his way down Mexican points, Vaughan was gifted candid footage of Curren’s various eccentricities. “The Mad Hatter going through the looking glass into another world of Lewis Carrol borderline nonsense, borderline genius,” as Vaughan describes it. Rather than dispute the parity of beautiful pointbreak and off kilter on lland behaviour, Vaughan embraced it and let it run. That is, after all, Tom Curren.

A Curren high line is just a simple, beautiful thing. (Photo by Andy Potts)

Vaughan says that it was the spark in Curren’s precise movements that got him, and you’ve got to admit, the 56-year-old looks electric. “There’s a couple waves when he’s on really nice boards and there’s nothing too fruity going on, but he looks razor sharp and you can see exactly what the board’s doing and how alive the craft is,” Vaughan says. “I was blown away by how quick he’s moving and adjusting. To be that responsive and alert, and have the reflex in your bones and muscles to surf that quick at his age is incredible.”

What more would you want Tom to ride in two foot runners? (Photo by Andy Potts)

There aren’t many famous surfers currently living that Vaughan can’t tell you a funny story about, but on Curren – perhaps fittingly, considering his legendarily aloof reputation – he’s a little light on the ground. “We just didn’t cross paths,” Vaughan says. “I started working on mags in 94, and he was not far off disappearing to film Litmus with Andrew Kidman and Jon Frank. But at that time if If Slater was like One Direction, he was like Pink Floyd. Slater was young Beatles and Curren was the White Album at the same time.”

Positioning = perfection down to the last hair follicle. (Photo by Andy Potts)

VD had a brief run in with Curren at Sean Doherty‘s 40th, in Forster of all places, when Tom Curren appeared unannounced when Sean was giving a speech, coincidentally (or maybe not) the night when Vaughan met his wife to be. But Curran remained Vaughan’s elusive dream collaborator, and now it’s finally happened, he admits that working with the great man was just as you’d want it to be.

How’d you spend COVID? (Photo by Andy Potts)

“I rang him and said it’s going to be pretty abstract, but I’ll let it breathe and all he said was, ‘Yeah man, bend it hard,'” Vaughan says. “After that he was scoring one part of the film and I got two texts off him. I texted him saying, ‘Where’s your song?’ and he messaged me back two weeks later and said: ‘I’m working on it.’ That was our collaboration in a nutshell.”

Let’s be honest, “Curren” and a line up shot like this had you at hello. (Photo by Andy Potts)

Surfing’s rife with characters that embody the core elements of the sport, but they’re largely on the fringe. Curren is an exception, a surfer who captures the anti-establishment freewheelin’ romance of the sport, but also existed within the mainstream, winning multiple world titles along the way. “He’s been so hectically mythologised by the media, but deep down the guy’s just wanted to get away from it his whole life,” Vaughan says. “He loves playing his guitar, going surfing and being on his own. So it seems perfect that in this time of uncertainty, he found himself on this beautiful little point. That’s what I love about the movie, it’s pure, unfiltered, non self-conscious Curren.”

And just like that, Curren once again slinks into the sunset. (Photo by Andy Potts)

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