Ride the World - The outdoor blog
Scouring earth daily for healthy doses of fun and adventure. Edited by Chris Mauro
"That's nothing. I've seen bigger waves behind my Mastercraft on Lake Piru."
steve grier says:
"Shane Dorian and his homies, they all stand tall. What ever happend to Laird Hamilton? I thought this was his backyard, waves like this were something he trained so hard for. I can remember back in 1969, I was on a plane returning from Japan, stopped over in Honolulu, herd the north shore was breaking with waves over 25ft. I drove out there and was able to see Gregg Noll ride the biggest wave I have ever seen someone ride. These guys and ladies get better and better each year, the waves they ride are to awesome. Good on them."
Sunday marked the one year anniversary of Dane Reynolds' awakening.
When he showed up at Lower Trestles with a smaller, wider 5' 7" last year he became one of the rare ASP surfers to follow Kelly Slater's lead down the experimental path.
Slater's journey earned him a title in 2008. Though Dane, like Kelly, experiments with fish and various offshoots in the off season, it wasn't until the Hurley Pro in 2009 that he ever dared to experiment with his equipment in a heat.
He had no choice after coming straight to Trestles last year from a surf trip in Mexico, where he spent several days flying at high speeds on some fatter, flatter, stubby equipment.
His normal board felt so slow at Lowers he thought he was dragging a kelp bed behind him.
At his wits end -- still struggling in his second year on tour -- he stuck with the stubby 5' 7". Its touchy accelerator opened up parts of the Lower's face Dane wasn't familiar with, and liberated by the freedom, he unleashed a high-speed assault.
By unlocking his mind about what couldn't and shouldn't be ridden in a heat, he passed the threshold guardians keeping him from reaching the next level. He went on a tear, making his first (and still his only) ASP Final.
Fast forward to Sunday morning at Trestles, where Dane's experiment is continuing down its natural course. It's important to note that once a real design journey starts, and a new opportunities are realized, it's human nature to seek the next boundary. (See Kelly Slater in 2009.)
Dane is as open as ever about his equipment. Once again, he rode a smaller, fatter board in his very first heat Sunday morning. But when Reynolds had a shocker of a heat, stumbling and fumbling to a runner-up finish, bystanders immediately started blaming the board. Apparently, because it wasn't "normal" they were convinced it was the culprit.
This just in: It wasn't the board's fault.
There's a much simpler explanation. "Dane sucks in early morning heats," says Mike Parsons. "Everyone on tour knows it. He's just not an early morning guy." Parsons started rambling off Dane's woeful a.m. record to make his point, which seems to match up with reality.
The argument was validated in Reynolds' Round Two heat, when he laid a heavyweight assault on Kolohe Andino, who, tricks and all, couldn't lay a finger on Dane with his bantam weight stuff. The power differential was enormous.
Dane's board, meanwhile, gave him everything he asked for this time. It was still of the fat and wide variety, yet presumably one he hadn't ridden. He didn't pop the clutch once. He did, however, max out on the torque a few times, unleashing a fiery flurry of power-gouges in the choppy afternoon conditions (which he seems to prefer).
There was no more talk of bad boards after that heat. Nor should there be. Ever since Dane's breakthrough last year at the Hurley Pro he's been consistently finishing higher thanks to shorter, wider, more voluminous boards. They are a key reason why he's ranked fourth in the world with an outside shot at a title.
Yet if Dane's to ever make the leap up into the true "contender" status he'll have to pass by another set of threshold guardians; big, burly and demanding ones at that. These mo-fos won't let Dane pass without him daring to publicly care about what it is he's after.
Mind you, a huge part of Reynolds' allure and reputation is that he doesn't give a shit. That he could just let all this tour stuff go and be fine with it. His marketing experts have invested a lot of time and creative energy into that narrative. The problem is it isn't true.
Dane does care. He likes winning more than losing. A lot more. But it's a wrestling act, keeping the creative beast and the competitive one both satisfied, while not offending his anti-establishment homies back in Oxnard and Ventura, where being anti-interested in everything is in the D.N.A..
Much was made of Kelly Slater learning to "let go" in order to win his seventh and eighth world titles a few years back. That was a misnomer though. He never let go. He merely loosened his grip, stopped grinding his teeth, and started having fun with trying his best.
Somewhere in that giant frame there's a fiercely competitive kid burning-- the same one who dominated the amateur ranks, and still likes to talk shit about other guy's shitty styles, and have fun.
Dane might fancy himself an artist. And he is. (See the hand-drawn Quik logos on his board, the arty mags on his coffee tables and even his groovy website.) But artists are tortured souls for good reason. The dirty little secret about them is they're the most competitive people in the world, yet they're not allowed to admit it.
There are risks involved should Dane Reynolds dare to care. If he falls short of reaching a publicly acknowledged goal there may be pain involved. But that pain subsides. The pain of burying the truth last forever.
-- Photo of Dane Reynolds by ASP/Rowland.