Not too long ago 3x World Champion Tom Curren travelled in a direction he very rarely moves – inland. Heading east from the coast of California, he drove until he hit a little town called Leemore. There in Leemore, in the middle of the Californian desert, he drew out those classic TC lines on the world’s most famous artificial wave.
“That wave, wow…” Tom says over the phone, a few days after his session. “What’s most impressive to me is the length of the wave. It’s very long, and that’s great.”
Tom is used to surfing the best waves in the world, he’s spent his life chasing perfection in the ocean. But even Tom Curren, the world’s penultimate Searcher, can admit that the Surf Ranch is among the best waves on this planet. “Yeah,” he says. “The crazy thing is that this wave, it’s just like all of those other really good waves around the world. But it’s in a pool. It’s just crazy.
“I’ve been to the Surf Ranch a few times and the biggest benefit I see in the wave pool is that it is very beneficial for researching board design. They’ve made this machine wave and you can surf it and compare boards and tweak designs. The other biggest benefit is that, because it’s such a perfect wave, literally anybody can get in the barrel. People go there and they’ve never been barrelled and then they all of a sudden they’re in it. That’s huge.”
The first time Tom went to the wave pool he was riding an experimental board, which he describes as a cross between a skimboard and a surfboard. However as he touches on above, the perfection and repetition of the Surf Ranch will quickly set a good board apart from the bad ones. “Yeah, the experimental board I was having trouble with. I was trying to make something that had a cross between the really sharp edges of a skimboard and the round edges of a surfboard.
“Sharp edges are all about the release, and the softer rounded edge is all about holding on and holding into the tube. If you’re on a wave and you’re going through the barrel, if it’s a good board it’ll hold into the face of the wave. The good ones hold into the face of the wave and then if they have a concave towards the tail, they can accelerate out of a trouble spot. The best boards, the ones that hold the board into the face that well, you can almost be blindfolded. The board will know where to go. But when I went to the pool with this hybrid I knew right away, I went, okay, right, this board sucks. So instead I rode a Black Beauty, and that seemed to go well. I was happy with that.
“A lot of people go to the Surf Ranch to work on manoeuvres and tricks and to get better at tube riding, but that’s not where I see the value. The usefulness for me is working on board design, and getting barrelled. You can get barrelled in that pool every time, any time. And every time I get the opportunity to go, I’ll go. I love it.”
It’s not every day you see 3x World Champion Tom Curren surfing the world’s most perfect artificial wave. Take it in...