Former world champion drops in to ride waves in Taranaki

ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

Tom Curren, a three-time world surfing champion, dropped in to catch some waves in Taranaki during the weekend while traveling New Zealand with a mate.

Three-time world champion surfer Tom Curren has confirmed Taranaki’s reputation as one of New Zealand’s premier surfing spots.

The 53-year-old American, who was world surfing champion in 1985, 1986 and 1990, is touring the country with his friend Mark Arico and the pair couldn’t resist enjoying some waves at New Plymouth’s Back Beach on Sunday.

“This area is known as one of the main premier surfing spots in New Zealand, as far as I know.”

Curren, whose daughter Lee-Ann surfed in Taranaki as a rookie in 2010 ASP World Tour, and whose son, Patrick, also visited a few years ago, said while the waves weren’t the biggest or best he had seen, the region lived up to its reputation.

READ MORE: Lee Ann out to ride her own wave

“It was three to four foot, nice conditions and there was some good shaped waves.

“From what they (locals) were saying it was just an average day but it was really fun.”

The Californian’s presence at the beach caused a few waves with locals.

“I met a few of the older crew, they recognised me. They were really surprised I think.”

Renowned surf photographer and coach Daisy Day said Curren was one of her heroes and it had been great to see him in the waves at her home patch.

“He is one of the legends that I’ve looked up to,” Day said.

“He can still surf, boy can he still surf.”

Curren, who who achieved legendary status in the sport for his competitive drive and smooth, powerful style, was also impressed with some of the homegrown talent that was on display, including 13-year-old Natasha Gouldsbury.

“There are some really good local surfers around.”

He was also impressed with the welcoming nature of Taranaki locals and scenery.

Arico and Curren had spent a week exploring the waves in the South Island before making their way north and on Monday were heading for Raglan.

“It has been a while since I’ve done anything like that so it’s just kind of nice to get up, look at the map and then just sort of hit the road.

“We are just driving up the coast and looking for waves. That, basically, is what it’s all about.”

 – Stuff

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