Dear Tom Curren…

My favorite picture of my favorite surfer doing my favorite thing at my favorite spot.

My favorite picture of my favorite surfer doing my favorite thing at my favorite spot.

I hate to do this to you today, seeing as how it’s your 50th birthday and all, but I’m moving on. No longer will I worship the water you walk on. Maybe it’s part of distancing myself from surfing in general, or more likely you don’t belong on the pedestal I put you on back in 1984.

I’ll never forget it. I walked into IsIand Water Sports one summer day, and there you were, 20-feet-tall on a 16″ screen. I craned my neck to watch, and your Rincon dance was seared into my impressionable young brain. Speed, power, grace — you had it all, and you made everything look easy. Monkeying your every move, your every minute gesture, became my mission. Even when those moves made no sense at all, like head snaps. Head snaps! Come on, dude.

Channel Islands board with airbrushed band on deck - check, Rip Curl wetsuit - check, OP sponsorship - check, hand positioning - check, young bride - check.

Channel Islands board with airbrushed band on deck – check, Rip Curl wetsuit – check, OP sponsorship – check, hand positioning – check, young bride – check.


The way you went to Australia and kicked everyone’s asses, then came home and dominated the OP Pro, you made me determined to build a life as a pro surfer. But not an ordinary pro surfer, one who tries to avoid cameras and the spotlight because we know it’s all phony. In other words, you showed me the keys to being unsuccessful.

I had a sponsor tell me that I needed to extend myself when I’m surfing, to not make stuff look so easy. Again, your fault. I was only miming your style. Another time I brought this same guy some shots to use in an ad. “You’re too deep in the barrel,” he told me. “All we can see is the nose of your board. You’re not Tom Curren. If you were Curren this would be great, but you’re not. You’re Borte. Nobody knows who Borte is. We can’t use this.”

My 1985 kiddie version of the Curren cutback at Turtle Bay. Photo: Grandonnie.

My 1985 kiddie version of the Curren cutback at Turtle Bay. Photo: Grandonnie.


Then you go and marry your high school sweetheart and have a bunch of kids. I thought, Oh cool, I can do that, too. And after a few years you have the nerve to get divorced? How you gonna play me like that?

The list goes on. Ocean Pacific, you surfed for them, so I did, too. The clothes were so bad that I searched the entire warehouse and couldn’t find anything I’d be caught dead wearing. I walked out with one sweatshirt and a pair of neon orange nut-huggers as a joke. (I still have them.) Guitars, yeah I bought one. Never got beyond the first few notes of “Stairway to Heaven,” so that was a waste.

"C'mon, you can do this, Jason, it's easy."

“C’mon, you can do this, Jason, it’s easy.”


Tom Curren, you’re a false idol, and you’re no longer my hero. I now see you as more of a human jellyfish — beautiful, flowing, and dangerous in water, but kind of a gelatinous blob on land. Still, I hope you have a great birthday. And although I’m committed to not riding a wave this year, if you called and asked me to go surfing, I totally would.

Sincerely,

Jason Borte

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