Pat Curren’s second most-famous son Joe responds to claims he abandoned surf icon Daddy to the caprices of market forces: “We have always run into a major road block.”

"It’s sad to see the negative comments being said from people who don’t know the whole story."

Two days ago, it was revealed that eighty-eight-year-old Pat Curren, big-wave surfboard pioneer, father of three-timer Tom, was living in his van in an Encinitas carpark with his wife and special-needs kid.

A shaper from Rockaway Beach in New York, Paul Schmidt, who bumped into the legend’s wife, Mary, at the Swamis carpark had set up a GoFundMe account in response.

The goal was a hundred gees to help Pat fix up his ruined teeth, get the fam off the food relief train and so on.

Schmidt wrote in part,

Pride can be a beautiful thing. The pride Pat has taken in his work which bears his name is evident to even those far outside the surf world. But when we are in moments of dire need, when we’ve exhausted all viable options on our own, it is through simple acts of honest vulnerability that we can open ourselves to the inherent kindness in each human being’s heart. 

Today, August 9th, Pat turns 88 years old. We have an opportunity to lift up and support someone who has devoted his entire life to being the very thing others have commodified, and packaged, and sold, and made millions feeding to the surf-hungry masses. 

While most of the surf world went the way of carbon copy machine cuts and overseas production outsourcing, Pat chose to do it his way. He has stood as a guiding light for the younger generation of by-hand board builders, of which I find myself a part, for 70 years. 70 years and hardly a penny to show for it.

Mary told me once, “What people don’t understand about Pat is that he would give somebody the shirt right off his back with no idea if he’d get another one.

A common theme from readers was, why aren’t his kids Tom and Joe helping the old man out.

Today, Tom’s younger brother Joe, who achieved a modicum of fame as a pro surfer in the nineties films of Taylor Steele but who now makes a living as a photographer, woodworker and art framer, responded on his IG. 

I’ve been getting a lot of questions and reading stories about a go fund me campaign recently set up for my dad asking for $100,000 to help him with financial issues. Yes, it’s true he’s struggling financially. The truth is, this has been going on for a long time. I speak for all of the Curren family when I say we love and care about my dad very much. My brother Tom and I, my sisters Anna and Malie, my dad’s brothers Mike and Terry and the entire family have all have been quietly trying to help him, doing the best we can, for years and years. It has been challenging and complicated, and we have always run into a major road block.

We don’t know the person who started the go fund me. We first heard about the campaign Sunday morning on my dad’s birthday, after it was launched. We were surprised and disappointed that we were not notified about the campaign beforehand. We’ve always respected my dad’s wish to keep this kind of stuff private. Now it’s gone public. Its nice to see the positive statements being made about my dad. It’s sad to see the negative comments being said from people who don’t know the whole story. We hope my dad gets the money, he deserves it.

Interesting enough, but more revealing is the friction between Joe and Paul Schmidt.
@joecurren it most certainly is – a world where we are more connected than ever to the broader community of surfers and those who’ve been inspired by people like your father, and yourself. We are grateful to be a part of it and to see all the compassion and support for your family

joecurren We’re all having a difficult time understating why we weren’t contacted before this was launched.
@joecurren I don’t think you are, I fully understand, and have explained in my past correspondence with you that this was a gesture made on behalf of your father and Mary, who are my friends. I was given permission by them to create the campaign and to post the story. They have had a hand in every step of the process. It was not my place to contact you, as I do not know you. If either Pat or Mary wanted to contact you, I imagine they would have. 50k and counting 🙂 we are excited for Pat and Mary to received some no-strings-attached help from all of the people in the community who support and care for them. 🙏
@joecurren I’ll be sure to pass that message on to Pat and Mary for you.

I speak for the entire Curren family when I say, it would have been the right thing to do
@joecurren not sure why you deleted your original comment, but again, I’ll be happy to pass that message on to Pat and Mary.

A few other readers turned on Schmidt, one writing, “Gag me with a spoon.”

Read the fascinating thread here, Taylor Steele, Taylor Knox, Akila Aipa and a few other noteworthy surf names lighting up in there.

Don’t go chasing waterfalls: Plans for “indoor beach and interactive wave pool” to be built in Niagara scrapped due to Covid-19!

But a possible silver lining?

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls in upstate New York? I have not but was inspired by those brave men and women who climbed into barrels and took the leap when I was a child. Stoic faces, straight backs, a willingness to laugh in the face of fate. Or, not laugh but stoically stare.

Very brave.

The falls, which have both a Canadian side and an American side, are a popular wedding destination and I think people gamble too.

Alas, surfing has been taken off the menu.

Local hotelier Michael DiCienzo had, in the works, a vast indoor beach featuring an “interactive wave pool the size of a football field” along with jumbo video screens, restaurant, bar and a saltwater lagoon where guests could swim with marine creatures.

The Niagara Beach and Surf Club was going to be extremely fun, safer than a barrel into oblivion, and permits were granted even though there was some trouble when Niagara’s mayor complained the photos used to sell the club (above) were photoshopped from a Japanese indoor beach later demolished.

Alas, Covid-19.

DiCienzo told the local Buffalo News, “We’re not in a very good environment for all types of business investment right now. We’ve canceled any projects for the foreseeable future.”

Does this also mean that foreseeable future Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch events are canceled too?

Hope springs eternal.

Listen: Longtom and Chas Smith talk Rumble at the Ranch “Two seconds of Joe Turpel and I felt such disgust” and Pat Curren: “The only shame in this story is I didn’t know he was living so close to me. I should be down there pouring out a bottle of vodka with old Pat right now!”

Dirty, dirty water.

Today’s episode of Dirty Water, number twenty-four, is a virtual roundtable with flap jaws Charlie Smith and Steve “Longtom” Shearer, one a ravishing blond, the other with narrow maroon eyes.

Steve has been hailed for his artistic independence and the honesty of his portrayal of professional surfing. Unlike every other surf writer, he subordinates himself to the story, explaining that “any story I reveal myself completely in will be a bad story.”

Topics discussed: The Rumble at the Ranch, the first WSL event of note in eight months.

“I’m terrified that people still think that contests in tubs are the future,” says Longtom.

“I wanted pro surfing. I wanted something. But Turpel’s nonsense, I thought, this is a proper Dante’s inferno here. I don’t know what level it is, but it’s hell,” says Charlie.

We move to Pat Curren, the eighty-eight-year-old big-wave surfboard designer who was revealed, yesterday, to be living in a van near the beach with his wife and special needs daughter. 

“Imagine how much vodka he could buy,” notes Charlie, referring to the GoFundMe account setup by a New York shaper to help the old guy out. 

There’s a detour into mid-lengths, BeachGrit’s pivot to politics, Belarus and the revolution there, and the episode wraps with Steve reading a chapter of Moby Dick dedicated to Pat Curren.

“Pat’s not just an icon,” says Steve. “he’s symbol of that surfing life where you just let go all the attachments to society and the normal considerations of life

Breaking: World Surf League robs young man his rightful wager winnings, maybe life, by swapping previously advertised bracket at last second!

Deep, deep shame.

True to my word, I did not watch the Rumble at the Ranch though did spend much time looking at the home Kim Kardashian and Kanye West once owned. Not that much, actually, but I did glance a few times and, to be honest, also glanced at the World Surf League’s first narrowcast of professional surfing since…. whenever.

I am a surf journalist after all.

My glance came as traffic slowed on the 405, right after noon, and I thought, “What the heck. We’re stuck in traffic, young daughter killing people in Fortnite, lemme just check in.”

Ill-advised, certainly, on multiple levels.

I heard Joe Turpel. I saw Rose. I couldn’t take anymore. Skin crawling, wanting to drive into the center median, etc.

PTSD, I believe, is what it’s called.

Later, I wondered if it was good. Maybe great. I devoured Longtom’s analysis and wondered if Longtom is only a hater. I giggled at Kanoa Igarshi’s onesie but remembered my many mispelings a day.

Then was sent this abomination via Instagram.

“Put money on this trash between some friends, just to make it somewhat bearable and the WSL couldn’t even get that right. This is bracket they publicly posted (which we made our picks off of)…”

“…And this is the one they’re using for today’s event. Fuck the WSL.”

Robbing punters?

Is there a worse crime?

Chazz Micheal?

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan has much to answer for (including Lawn Patrol) but this….


The words escape.

Longtom on Rumble at the Ranch: “The gap between the rhetoric, that tubs were going to loose a tsunami of radical innovative surfing, and the reality, conservative surfing, is becoming clearer every day”

Niggling boredom, jarring resentment…

The Rumble at the Ranch: it’s not an ideal moniker, let’s be honest.

There wasn’t much heat in the first WSL comp for 148 days, since Leo Fioravanti took the W in late afternoon onshore two-foot surf at Manly on pro surfing’s darkest day.

There was much potential for some sly sexiness, beautiful bodies doing beautiful things will always draw the eye no matter where you are on the sexual spectrum. But the Wozzle bobbled the potentially most dramatic moment: when the couples are revealed. By going prematurely on that announcement they robbed the beginning of the day of any kind of anticipation which might natively belong to it.

As for the rest?

The wave and the surfing it has now produced for four competitions spanning many hundreds of rides has changed very little.

Filipe Toledo produced the best ride with a pigeon pair of alley-oops during the Final, same as he did in 2018.

I swore off watching after last years snooze-fest.

A comp rescued only by the imperiousness of Gabriel Medina and, in retrospect, by the bone-deep weird combination of Kelly Slater and his Australian “friend” Charlie Goldsmith. That was compelling viewing in a way that was not touched by anything that went down today.

God knows why I expected anything else.

“This time it’ll be different” is the thought of anyone in an unhealthy relationship.

And it never is.

We’re five years into this thing now.

Five long years.

The gap between the rhetoric, that tubs were going to loose a tsunami of radical innovative surfing, and the reality, conservative surfing, is becoming clearer every day. It’s become what Orwell termed the “inadmissible fact.” It’s put us in upside down world, where Chris Cote, when he hears the train says, “ This never gets old” means “there’s something deeply wrong here but I can’t dare acknowledge it”.

Five years.

Can someone on the pro wavepool side of the argument explain to me why, given the basic repeatability of the wave, some new trick is not conceived, mastered and then executed to a stunned judging panel ala vert skating or snowboard half-pipe?

Wasn’t that the whole point?

That with the randomness of the ocean taken out of the equation we would see moreoreless choreographed “runs”?

Not the same two alley-oops that we saw two years ago.

The same combinations of turns for the same sevens that we were promised salvation from?

My admittedly tiny straw poll of the sexiest couple, ala Olympic Figure Skating, dubbed Filipe and Coco the clear winners.

OK, that was Derek Rielly, but a finer judge of sexy couples, would be hard to find.

I think we can agree on that.

Sage and Kelly also cut a very fine couple in the Steinbeckian heat shimmer.

Was anyone watching?

I couldn’t find a heartbeat amongst the surfers at my local for it. Facebook registered 11, 700 viewers during Kelly’s semi-final runs.

Pretty respectable numbers for live pro surfing. Especially on a Monday morning in Aus.

My viewing experience was unpleasant.

Site crashed every second wave, app no better. I watched more Sally Fitz shilling Boost Mobile than live surfing. It was a test of endurance, despite the whole thing being run and done in four hours. That has to be the future of the Basin game: novelty events, mixed doubles.

It don’t hold up as a full scale CT venue.

A QS would feel like a jail sentence.

Any highlights worth a re-watch?

Check out Filipes double twirlybird in the Final, for completeness. Kanoa’s Nine was the most technically well surfed wave. Tatiana-Weston Webb’s 7.93 was a little herky-jerky but siphoned off a very fine tube ride. The Derek Ho tribute wave which opened proceedings where Kelly muscled people off the wave and then pulled in will confirm all your impressions of the King circa 2020, for good or ill.

I thought, a little more grace from the GOAT on his home-turf would have been appropriate.

When you strip out the ocean and the possibility of anything that adds unexpected drama to pro surfing, a Medina brain explosion, lulls, a heat-winning ride in the final seconds, sharks, coral etc etc, it boils down to a bland formula.

For the viewer, a dull ache of unrealised desire at the deathless sight of that impossibly perfect wave that fades with each wave to be replaced with niggling boredom and a jarring resentment.

Or, no?

Watch the four-hour replay here.