Senior Editor

The Inertia

There’s something to respect about a brand that’s able to let its people be people. It doesn’t happen often. Especially when those people essentially take a dump on said brand’s tried-and-true ad slogan. In his new film, Free Scrubber, there’s a moment when three-time world champ and amateur musician Tom Curren is sitting on a couch twiddling away on his keyboard. Someone behind the camera, presumably a younger someone, tries to define “The Search,” Rip Curl’s go-to ethos the last 20 years and one in which Curren helped create.

“What I was thinking, and I want to get Tom’s opinion on the whole ‘Search’ thing,” opines the voice,” “during this whole COVID-19 thing, the ‘Search’ for me is not finding perfect waves…..”

Before Curren cuts him off with a finger to his mouth while trying to figure out his riff.

“I don’t really have any searching left to do,” Curren replies. “I’m old. Actually, I could take the ‘Search’ sticker off because it gets boring after awhile. It’s like tuuube (sigh), barrel (another bored sigh), chandelier (ahh, noo)….” Then cut to Tom playing more piano, this time in black and white on the beach where his music becomes the background to his still-enviable wave riding.

He may as well have said, “Shut the eff up, I’m sick of talking about ‘The Search.’ That’s boring.” And that’s before we even get to the surfing. Which is masterful as usual, not hurried, satisfying in its stylish cutbacks and lack of lip whacking. It’s just Tom Curren, riding the waves he wants to ride, at the pace he wants to ride them, and looking fit as ever at 57.

Maybe it’s the sweat-inducing hikes in the Mexican desert we see in the front, the ones we all have to do to keep our waists svelte enough to surf the way we want as we grow older, that adds to the realness. Or again, maybe it’s just the simple dialogue. It’s surely all Santa Barbara’s favorite son, doing exactly what he wants to do, surfing the way he wants to surf, where he wants to surf, and living the way he wants to live.

Kudos to Rip Curl for letting Tom be Tom. And letting us get a little peek into his world these days.

I booked tickets to my spot in Mexico this morning.

Editor’s Note: Free Scrubber was filmed by Andy Potts and edited by Nick Pollet and Vaughan Blakey.


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