The First Legendary Curren
Tom Curren is the son of an earlier surfing legend, Pat Curren, who was one of the pioneers in the modern age of the sport. The elder Curren started surfing in California in 1950, at the age of eighteen. In 1955 Curren moved to Hawaii to surf the larger waves of the North Shore of the island of Oahu. He continued to shape surf-boards there as he had in California, but the larger surf required a different style of board. Curren's designs, known as Elephant Guns since they were designed for hunting the biggest waves, had more of a rocker or curve than standard boards and went very quickly. Curren also made a name for himself in Hawaii for being one of six men who pioneered surfing in the Waimea part of the island, where the waves can be particularly dangerous.
In 1961 Pat Curren married a surfer named Jeanine. A year later the two of them moved to Santa Barbara, California, where Jeanine ran a bikini shop and Pat made a living by shaping surfboards, diving for abalone, and designing bikinis for Jeanine's shop. Tom Curren, the first of their three children, was born in 1964, and almost as soon as he could walk he was in the water. He got his first surfboard, a present from his father, when he was six. But Pat was discontented with this domesticated life, and eventually he and Jeanine began to fight. Tommy, caught in the middle, began drinking, running away, and smoking marijuana as a sixth- and seventh-grader. Jeanine, at her wits end, hardly ever let him out of her sight. She took Curren to church with her, inculcating the Christianity that would later become an important part of his life, and she drove him to surfing competitions all along the West Coast. By the time he was fourteen, he was winning major championships.