Archive for category: General

Searching for Tom Curren

22 Feb
February 22, 2022
Surfers chatting in the ocean in Cardiff, CA
Hangin’ with Tom Curren in Cardiff, CA

I had one of the most surreal experiences of my life last weekend (and I’ve had a few of those) when I got to paddle out for a surf session with Tom Curren, one the most stylish and influential surfers in history, and maybe the only surfer in the world who garners as much or more respect than Kelly Slater. He is surfing royalty, revered not just because of the glory the 3x world champion brought to American surfing during his career, but the way he has always done … well, everything.

Described over the years as “shy”, “private”, “eccentric”, and “enigmatic”, Curren was a professional competitive force with a free-surfer’s soul who never seemed comfortable with some of pro surfing’s rigid commercial trappings, even while he could not help but completely dominate the sport with his prodigious talent.

He retired in his prime when he seemed to simply get bored of the pro grind- an internationally renowned popular cultural icon with too much artistry, creativity and counter-culture DNA to keep doing the same things over and over. With nothing left to prove, he traded in the world tour for touring the world, becoming part of The Rip Curl Search, and putting more energy into his music career (he’s also an accomplished guitarist/musician/vocalist who has released two albums).

Tom never did a lot of interviews and never seemed to let the public into his life too deeply even while countless fans like me still longed to watch his timeless style. In 1995, Rip Curl and film-maker Sony Miller (RIP) produced, “Searching for Tom Curren”, one of the best surf films ever made, that finally let the world get a little closer look at the soul of Tom Curren. I still have a rare, 25-year-old original copy of that VHS that I preserved over the years, that Tom signed for me when I met up with him in Cardiff, CA last weekend.

How this trip materialized was absolutely incredible. Call it irony, serendipity, karma or a just a great blessing … maybe a little of all of that.

 A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an Instagram post about owning that original VHS copy of “Searching for Tom Curren”. The second I finished posting it and returned to my feed, I noticed a post from Rip Curl Ventura. I only follow the California shop (I’m in Florida) because my friend, Ehren Tresher, from New Smyrna Beach, used to manage it and I had visited him out there.

Their post announced that after 25 years, “Searching for Tom Curren” was finally being re-released in streaming and digitally-remastered formats, and noted that to celebrate the upcoming world premiere in Cardiff that week, that they were going to let 5 lucky people enjoy a two-hour surf-session with Tom. They said they planned to notify winners on the following Thursday for the event taking place Saturday morning. With such a short turnaround, I figured they were assuming the winners would be from California. But I also figured that if I had a full day to figure out travel arrangements, I could potentially make it, so I entered my contact information.

Fast forward to the following Friday. I had not received any notices, so I assumed I had not won. Oh well, you don’t know if you don’t go. Then… on Friday at 4 PM, I received a text from Rip Curl notifying me that I had indeed won and to show up at the San Elijo Campground in Cardiff at 9:30 the NEXT MORNING to meet and surf with Tom! 👀👀👀😂.

The folks from Rip Curl would later share with me that they had about 3,500 entries, that I had won entirely at random, and that the one-day delay in notifying me was due to the fact that among the original 5 winners who were selected, one could not make it and another did not surf and thought that the event, called “Camp Shred”, might include surf lessons. Of course, it didn’t, but Rip Curl wanted to fill the slots, and my name came up in the second draw.

Back to 4 p.m. on Friday … I could not believe it when I received the text! I didn’t even know if it was possible to get to California from Jax by early the morning, but I knew that if it was, it would be very expensive and logistically, nearly impossible, at best. I showed the notification to my wife, who was also in disbelief. At the same time, she knows the great value I place on life experiences, on seizing opportunities when they present themselves, and understood exactly where surfing with Tom Curren might fall in line on both of those lists for me.

So, she jumped online and started helping me look up flights. Now, this was the weekend of the Super Bowl, so you can imagine what the prices and lack of options for flights to San Diego and LAX looked like. Worse, I had to make a final decision FAST, also find a hotel room and rent-a-car, and get to the airport 45 minutes away, just to have a chance of making it.

Finally, we found a flight- at $675, the cheapest available, that was leaving in two hours. We are far from wealthy and I knew this was going to set back plans for a trip to El Salvador that I had been hoping to take, but again, I thought about it and realized this was an opportunity that say, at a charity auction, might go for between $5K – $10K, maybe more. Essentially, it was priceless. It is just not something that most would ever get the opportunity to do. So, we pulled the trigger.

I scrambled to pull my board bag down from the attic and threw my wetsuit, board shorts, and a change of clothes into an overnight bag while Gretchen continued searching for a car rental, and a hotel room in Cardiff. Within an hour, we were racing off to the airport and I made the last flight out of Jax, with about an hour to spare.

I arrived in San Diego at about 12:00 a.m. Gretchen had booked me a rent-a-car and a hotel room in Carlsbad, about halfway between the airport and Cardiff. Alas –as most, if not all experienced surf travelers have experienced at one time or another– I went to the baggage claim to pick up my board and waited… and waited… and waited… until one by one, all the people had disappeared… and all the carousels had stopped moving.

My board had not made it.

Livid, I protested with the airline service representatives. They tried to do what they could, but the reality was that there were no more flights coming in from Dallas (the American Airlines connecting city where my board had made it to). They assured me that it would arrive at 8:30 a.m. the next morning. I was due in Cardiff, about 30 miles away, at 9:30 am. It would be razor-close timing.

As a result of this delay, I had to cancel my hotel reservation in Carlsbad and try and find a room closer to the airport. Thankfully, it was a Saturday, so the early morning traffic would at least be lighter than on a weekday. But I still had to go pick up my car rental and try to find an affordable hotel room (an oxymoron in San Diego), that would take me in that very night. And, the clock was ticking.

After driving around downtown San Diego and calling and stopping at multiple hotels, most of which were full, I finally found one that would take me in for a few hours … for $175. I sat outside for a few minutes, pondering sleeping in my car, but I felt I had to get at least a couple of hours of decent sleep which wasn’t going to happen that way. So at 2:30 a.m., I bit the bullet and checked in.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, I got up and made my way back to the airport and at 8:30 a.m., as promised, my board arrived. I threw it in the back of my car and high-tailed it to Cardiff, arriving at the San Elijo Campground at around nine a.m.

Upon arriving, there was no parking to be found. As it turned out, there was an event happening there, a BIG one: “Camp ShredThe World’s Largest Board Demo”. ALL of the top board-makers were there and basically, you could demo any type of board you desired, for free. (In hindsight, I realized I didn’t even need my board – I would love to see one of these events in Florida!) Rip Curl had premiered the remastered version of Tom’s movie the night before and I was told that a lot of industry bigwigs were in attendance. They were also doing a second showing for the two-day event, later that evening.

I didn’t want to miss my session with Tom, so I parked in the only space I could find: a No Parking zone. I made my way down to the Rip Curl tent/campsite. I was greeted warmly with a big gift bag full of all kinds of Rip Curl swag, an invitation to help myself to their cooler, and assurance that Tom was in transit. I told their crew that I was from Florida, and about my crazy journey to get there. They could not believe it, but were super-stoked to learn about it! They told me their drawing was completely randomized and that they had no idea I was coming from Florida. They had only seen that I had confirmed I would be there.

Right behind me, the other four winners showed up, all from California, and not too far away. A couple were my age, a couple a bit younger. All were super friendly, and they also loved hearing that I had come all the way from Florida, with less than 24-hour’s-notice.

At around 10:30 a.m., Tom showed up with his wife, Maki. We had introductions, and after a little chatting, we put on our wetsuits and headed down to the beach. The waves were nice, waist-to-chest mostly, a little soft, but clean with good form. The break, a reef, was beautiful and they said a couple of whales had come through earlier. Due to the event (or maybe just due to it being California), it was packed, with about half of the people on longboards – men, women, and people of all ages.

Tom rode a CI twin-fin that looked to be about 5’5” with a unique pair of cutaway fins. His wife paddled out with us on a bodyboard. Due to the crowds, the good waves were hard to come by. I caught three, maybe going 15-20 yards each time, before cutting out. I had surfed twice all winter and was just happy not to fall in front of the champ.

Tom rode about five or six waves and as you might expect, ripped them all to shreds in a very nonchalant way while riding just about every one of them to the beach, each time. Like Kelly and other elite surfers, he simply seems to know where the energy resides in every wave and uses it to generate maximum speed and flow. His style was as effortless, as beautiful as ever, and a joy to watch. People noticed Tom but did not bother him, and he didn’t dominate the break the way I suppose he could have. Instead, he just found spots and waves, inside and outside, and made the most of each one.

In the water and after the session, Tom was as polite as could be– soft-spoken, and as humble as he always seemed to be from afar. He took the time to interact with each one of us there as a group, and individually. He told me he had just moved into a new home and said he hadn’t traveled much, recently. He perked up most when talking about music.

I mentioned that I had seen him play when he came through Jax years ago (at the Milk Bar), touring with Kelly Slater’s band. He said that was one of his favorite tours and concerts, and that he remembered Jacksonville and Jax Beach in particular, and really loved the area. I asked him if he had been involved creatively with the production of “Searching for Tom Curren” or just the subject of it, and he said it was all Sonny Miller’s creation, with the exception of some diffusion effects that he had suggested (to great effect, I would add).

When we got back to the beach and Rip Curl’s cliff-side camp, I asked him to sign my original VHS of “Searching for Tom Curren”, which I had brought with me for that purpose. He did, and also signed promotional film posters for my wife and two daughters. The folks from Nalu.tv, the company re-distributing the film offered up VIP tickets to the second showing of the film that night, but my flight back was that same evening.  I thanked them, Tom, and the Rip Curl team for the once-in-a-lifetime experience, and headed out.

When I returned to my car, there were two tickets on it; one for parking in a no-parking zone and the other for entering the campground without a pass. My expenses were still going up, but honestly, I was just happy my rental hadn’t been towed.

Heading back to Florida, I had to fly Jet Blue from San Diego to New York, of all places, then all the way back down to Florida. There was a snowstorm at JFK, and it caused a three-and-a-half-hour delay on top of what was already a very long trip that spanned all night and well into the next day. I hadn’t traveled since the pandemic began and masking up on the planes and in airports for that long was its own challenge. I think I slept a total of four hours over nearly two days, arriving back home a couple of hours prior to kickoff for the Super Bowl. As you might imagine, I slept through most of the game, but I wasn’t too worried about it. I had just gone “searching” for Tom Curren, and I found him.

Panoramic image of the ocean at San Elijo Campground, Cardiff, CA
San Elijo Campground, Cardiff, CA
Sign for Camp Shred, The World's Largest Surf Demo Event in Cardiff, CA
This was one cool event. Wish I could have stayed one more day or that they’d do something like this in Florida.
Group of surfers on the beach
A couple of the other guys who paddled out.
Surfer getting ready to head out into the surf
Curren was riding a Channel Islands twin, 5′ 5″ I think, with cutaway fins.
Surfer pointing out to the line-up in the ocean
Tom, breaking down the break.
Surfer riding a wave while another paddles out
Tom coming down the line. He still has that great flow and rode most waves he caught to the beach.
Surfer cuts back on a wave.
This wave was only a foot-and-half, but you see what he did to it. 😃
Tom Curren showcasing beautiful form on a small wave cutback
Timeless Curren style … arms, hands, legs. A couple of smooth pumps then blasts like this.
Looking at a surfer from the rear of the wave
Crusin’
Surfer cutting back on a wave
Classic Curren cutback. 2′ to 20′, the same beautiful thing.
The Rip Curl tent at Camp Shred, San Elijo Campground, in Cardiff, CA
The Rip Curl tent at Camp Shred, San Elijo Campground, in Cardiff, CA
Fan with pro surfer
Post surf at Rip Curl’s camp
Portrait of a young Tom Curren
Quintessential 80s’ California | Photo: Tom Servais
Tom Curren
The People’s Champ, forever. Photo Credit: Tom Servais

Thank You, Kelly

10 Feb
February 10, 2022
Photo: Brent Bielmann for WSL

On Saturday afternoon in pumping 10- to 12-foot surf at one of the world’s most dangerous breaks, Kelly Slater made history … again. The 11x world champ won the Billabong Pipe Masters just six days shy of his 50th birthday. He took the final against 24-year-old Seth Moniz, a world-class talent, North Shore local and Pipeline specialist.

 It was Kelly’s 8th Pipe Masters title and 56th event win of his illustrious career, one that spans 30 years, 832 heat victories and 31 perfect 10-point rides. He is the youngest world champ ever (age 20 in 1992) and the oldest ever (age 39 in 2011). He won 5-straight world titles from 1994 to 1998 and holds nearly every record of significance in professional surfing.

 As word spread around the net about Kelly’s most recent – and possibly, greatest and maybe even last professional milestone (he referenced the “R” word) – images of his incredible rides and emotional post-heat interview began popping up on social media. If you are connected to surfing at all, you likely came across a few of them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

 On Sunday morning, I even saw a post about it on LinkedIn. It garnered a handful of likes and made me feel good to see it there. But it also gave me pause to consider all those people for whom the post might have seemed trivial on the professional careers network, as well as others who might have noticed it only briefly on various other platforms while quickly scrolling through the news of the day. 

 For many, Kelly’s historic accomplishment may have been nothing more than a passing headline in their newsfeed, a novel tidbit about a vague personality in a sport that is too often associated with frivolous immaturity. But for those of us who surf, who through some serendipitous fortune have had the opportunity to witness the entirety of Kelly’s incredible decades-long career, it was and is something far more meaningful and consequential.

 There is a poem by Samuel Ullman titled, “Youth”. General Douglas MacArthur used to keep a framed copy of it on his wall and often referenced it in speeches. In it, Ullman reflects:

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life … Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.”                              

 I am not big on celebrity culture and I have never been one for hero-worship. But what are heroes? In their simplest form, they are people who do something more. They work harder, persevere longer, take more risks, and make greater sacrifices. They inspire us to change and to do more, ourselves.

 As a 50-something who still surfs regularly (your average free-surfer, but I’m out there), who remains professionally and creatively inspired, and has never been willing to forsake my physical health, stop chasing my dreams or setting my personal goals one inch lower because that’s the expectation of culture for people my age; that’s what Kelly’s victory in the powerful surf at Pipe, his current World #1 ranking days before his 50th birthday (February 11th), and the entirety of his career, mean to me.

 It is about optimism and the challenge of remaining true to one’s ideals.

For the greater part of my adult life, Kelly has been one who has inspired these things in myself and so many others– to pursue life with vigor and passion; set goals based not on what others think, but on terms you set for yourself, and to believe anything is possible, something more – far more – than most others might even be able to imagine. Yes, there will always be wins and losses, but why burden yourself with pre-conceived notions and limitations?

 To Kelly, on behalf of myself and millions like me who have followed every step of your remarkable career, I say, Happy 50th Birthday. Thank you for your unyielding optimism and countless messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power played out across so many waves and oceans, and for so many years.

 Thank you for your enthusiasm, your unfailing childlike appetite for what’s next, and joy for the game of living. Thank you most of all for a lifetime of inspiration and for holding fast to that wonder that lives in the center of your own heart, and in ours.

Supergirls

25 Nov
November 25, 2021
Sage-Erickson-and-Fans
Sage Erickson, taking a moment for a shot with Kaelyn following her heat win in the Round of 32 at the Supergirl Pro in Jax Beach, FL.


My daughter, Kaelyn, with Sage Erickson at the recent SuperGirl Surf Pro in Jax Beach a couple of weeks ago. What a treat it was to see the world’s best female surfers here for a WSL-sanctioned contest!

Kaelyn and I went and watched the contest on Saturday and made it a point to catch up with Sage.

The very first board I ever bought for Kaelyn happened to be one of Sage’s used boards. It was a 5′ 7″ Channel Islands that we found at the Surf-Station, which is a CI distributor. As a result, they occasionally get in old team rider boards. The one I bought for Kaelyn was beautiful, and featured some of Sage’s own hand-drawn butterfly art (Yes, Sage is a talented artist, as well- see the pic, below)!

At the Supergirl Pro event, we caught up with Sage and shared a pic of Kaelyn with her old board. She gasped, smiled, and put her hand over her mouth, then just stood there silent for a few moments gazing at it. She couldn’t believe it and seemed to get a real kick out of it! She said to Kaelyn, “Oh my God, where’d you get that? Who is that in the picture? Is that you?! That’s back when I used to ride for O’Neill!”

Needless to say, it was a thrill to get to meet her and share this memory with her. Apparently, the board was a good memory for her, too. Sage won her heat that day, but eventually went down in the Round of 16. Again, super stoked to see this event in Jax. The pier was producing, and the ladies were absolutely ripping, then entire event.

Young surfer with surfboard
Kaelyn with her first surfboard, one of Sage Erickson’s old boards with her own hand-drawn butterfly art

Bobcat Out Back

14 Dec
December 14, 2018
Bobcat behind home in residential neighborhood
Here Kitty, Kitty! My wife photographed this beautiful bobcat behind our home from inside the safety of our screened porch. The bobcat came and sat on our outdoor porch and pergola next to the grill. Guess my burgers must be pretty good!

Fun with Fire

27 Dec
December 27, 2016

Fun with Fire

Kelly Slater’s Wave Company: Told Ya’ So!

20 Dec
December 20, 2015

No doubt, by now, you’ve seen this video. It’s “making waves” of epic proportions around the surf world- Kelly Slater’s Wave Company technology at work. It’s revolutionary and poised to change surfing, just as the champ himself, always has. The unveiling of this wave caused me to reflect on a piece that I wrote 5 years ago this month, about this very moment in time. I’m not one to pat myself on the back too much, but it’s worth taking a moment to read, because everything that’s being said now, I predicted we’d be hearing back then. Check it out… I told ya’ so!: http://www.timhamby.com/kelly-slater-wave-company-the-next-ultimate-w/

Camachee Cove, St. Augustine, FL

01 Dec
December 1, 2015

Boats at Camachee Cove Yacht Club , St. Augustine

Picture Perfect

01 Dec
December 1, 2015

beautiful tree on South Carolina farm in fall

Broke Down

01 Dec
December 1, 2015

broken trailer in a corn field

Imagine

08 Oct
October 8, 2015

Can you imagine what this might have been like? This guy didn’t have to. Pretty magical moment.

The Lexus Hoverboard: It’s here

05 Aug
August 5, 2015

Unbelievable… Technology never ceases to amaze me. And this technology is a decade old. From WIRED:

“AFTER A MONTH of teasers and speculation, Lexus has finally shown off its real, live, working hoverboard. It may not beBack to the Future, but it’s still a mighty satisfying ride.

As it turns out, the future is hard; professional skateboarder Ross McGouran has plenty of spills on the way to mastering even basic moves. That’s perhaps not surprising, given that riding the Lexus hoverboard is basically like straddling a maglev train. As we explained in June, the Lexus hoverboard relies on superconductors and magnets, which work against gravity to lift board and rider above the ground. That cool-looking steam coming off of the sides isn’t decorative; it’s liquid nitrogen, cooling the superconductors to -321 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which they become superconducting.

The steam’s not the only thing that may not be quite what it appears. The biggest disappointment for hoverboard enthusiasts is that course on which McGouran hover-shreds is actually has metal underneath it; on the surfaces that comprise the vast majority of our infrastructure, the hoverboard would simply be a heavy, immobile board. In fact, aside from its healthy dose of style, the Lexus hoverboard isn’t much different from a dozen lab demonstrations that have taken place over the last few decades.

A highly constrained, not quite original hoverboard is still a hoverboard, though. And this one even comes with a bonus; Lexus put together a mini-doc about the process that gives a refreshingly clear-eyed look at the physics behind the fun.”

Let’s hope jetpacks are next.”

What if Money Was No Object?

01 Aug
August 1, 2015

 

Profound vocational guidance from the late Alan Watts. This is a lesson that all parents need to pass along to their children. What do you desire from your life?

Text:

What do you desire? What makes you itch? What sort of a situation would you like?

Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, “we’re getting out of college and we have the faintest idea what we want to do.” So I always ask the question, “what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?”

Well, it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I’d like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses. I said you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do?

When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much.

That’s everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track.

See what we are doing, is we’re bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lives we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch, and no vomit it never gets there.

And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question:

What do I desire?

Just Add Soap & Water

19 Jul
July 19, 2015

No waves, no pool, no problem! A little soap, water and a plastic tarp are all you need to cure summer boredom! This is resort-style living at its finest- Kaelyn having fun in the yard.

Heaven Under Our Feet and Over Our Heads

19 Jul
July 19, 2015

Guana River State Park

Perhaps one of the most stunning viewpoints of Guana River State Park

Green Peace and Quiet

19 Jul
July 19, 2015

natural bamboo tunnel

Serenity now. How’s this for a driveway?

Kula Eco Park, Fiji

12 Jul
July 12, 2015

suspension bridge at Kula Eco Park, Fiji

A beautiful suspension bridge at Kula Eco Park on Viti Levu in Fiji

Cold shower

12 Jul
July 12, 2015

Under a waterfall

You go by a waterfall, you gotta get in…

Sometimes, you just need a break…

12 Jul
July 12, 2015

A really inspiring story…

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/07/08/homeless-and-luckless-a-piano-man-wows-the-internet-and-gets-a-new-start/

Fijian Weather Station

11 Jul
July 11, 2015

Using a rock and a string to tell the weather

How they do it

Blue Skies & Rainbows in Viti Levu

11 Jul
July 11, 2015

Waidroka Bay Resort in Viti Levu

Waidroka Bay Resort in Viti Levu, Fiji Showing Off

Waidroka Bay Surf & Dive Resort

11 Jul
July 11, 2015

Waidroka Bay Resort

Waidroka Bay Resort

FIJI

11 Jul
July 11, 2015

IMG_3098

Anticipation

11 Jul
July 11, 2015

Kendall, gazing out the hotel window at the hazy LA skyline, prior to leaving for Fiji.

Kendall, gazing out the hotel window at the hazy LA skyline, prior to leaving for Fiji.

#Winning

11 Apr
April 11, 2015

IMG_2417

Good for (1) free dinner!

 

Little Fluffy Clouds

18 Mar
March 18, 2015

Intracoastal Waterway

Find us on Google+