California’s Golden Child

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Ventura, California is only about an hour and a half away from the epicenter of the surf world in Huntington Beach, California. This short distance may be the reason Dane Reynolds isn’t fully aware of the hype that is beginning to surround him like a hurricane. Surf-company owners, marketing directors, team managers, and magazine editors are all talking about the regular-foot sensation who’s been lighting it up since he was eleven years old.

Comments like, “Dane’s hands-down the best kid in California.” And, “He’s for sure gonna be on the world tour in two year.” And even, “Dane’s gonna be the next world champ from California.” These remarks have been echoing and reverberating throughout surf-industry hallways and across beaches for the last two years. There’s a big difference between child star and legit professional surfer, and in the next few months, Dane will be charging into the trenches, along with hundreds of other highly touted WCT hopefuls, to prove his worth.

What’s the difference between Dane and the masses of contest machines? There have only been two surfers his age to posses such natural talent. One of them came from Florida and won six world championships. The other one came from Dane’s hometown–his name is Tom Curren.

TransWorld SURF: A lot of people are talking about you at the moment. They’re saying you’re the next big thing, and you’re the best kid coming up out of America. How do you deal with the hype that surrounds you?

Dane: I didn’t even know that there was hype that surrounds me . It really doesn’t surround me I guess. If people are talking about me, it doesn’t come back to me.

How do you react when you hear that you’re being called the best amateur in America?

I guess that’s quite an accomplishment in itself, but there’s so many kids that are equal with me. Sometimes I don’t understand why people think I’m higher than other kids are.

Is there a lot of pressure on you to be the superstar?

I don’t feel any pressure really. I just try to surf, that’s why I’m even in the game–I just love to surf and surf a lot. I guess that’s what makes you better.

How long have you be dealing with sponsors and contests?

I started NSSAs when I was eleven, and I’ve been doing them ever since. My first sponsor was Channel Islands when I was twelve. Geoff Brack helped me out; he started bringing me to the workouts.

That’s a great first sponsor.

Yeah, from there Channel Islands helped me. They got me sponsored by Rip Curl. A lot of companies call Channel Islands asking for kids.

At what age did you start to feel like you were really progressing and realizing that you were going to make a run at this surf thing?

I’d say when I was thirteen. I started doing the open season NSSAs. I started to see all these kids who were getting photos in the magazines that I could actually beat in contests.

When you started kicking ass on those other kids, did you feel like you could get in the magazines, too?

I guess so.

What about the first time you saw a photo of yourself in a magazine? How did that feel?

John Keppler wrote a two-page article about me in Wave Action. I was so stoked. I think I still have it pinned up to my wall. After that, I met William Sharp, we became good friends, and we shoot almost every day. He’s gotten a lot of photos of me published.

Do you still get stoked when you see yourself in the magazines?

It depends on the photo, I guess. If I see a something of myself that I like, I get really stoked–like a good carve or something like that. I hate the flyaway air shots. It really depends on the photo. I get bummed when I get baphotos in the magazine.

Do you wish you could choose your own photos?

All the time. Sometimes I’ll see a photo and just think, “How did that get published? How did I even get in that position?” That’s when I wonder why I’m getting photos over those other kids.

Are you pro?

I don’t know. What’s the difference? I’m getting a paycheck, but I’m still doing amateur contests.

Do you get paid well?

Yeah, I mean, a lot better than most kids my age, surfing or not. I don’t really know what most kids in the surf industry are getting at my age. I’m getting more than I need.

Did you sign some long contracts?

Actually, I think all my contracts are coming up soon.

Do you have a manager? It seems like right now would be a good time to go after the big money, buy yourself a new car, a house, a pinky ring all laced out.

My mom really wants me to get a manager, but I don’t know. Sean Hayes has been helping me a lot with my last couple of contracts. He’s been doing a really good job, and he just does it as a friendship thing.

Sean seems to help a lot of you guys up in there in Ventura. But what about the other older guys up there? We’ve heard that they can be pretty heavy sometimes. Ever been dunked or slapped out in the water?

The guys up here are really cool to me, but they still get bummed when I bring video guys or photographers up here. Some friends up here like Adam Virs, Sean Hayes, and Brian Aresco are good exposure-wise because they bring photographers.

Do you ever feel weird bringing a photographer to your local break?

Yeah, actually right now. I’m doing this project with Syrus Sutton called Riding Waves and it’s, like, all about my local break. He’s been filming out there in the water, and I’ve been getting some bad looks from guys who are usually good friends of mine . I feel bad, but I gotta do it, I guess.

Do you want surfing to be your job?

Yeah, definitely. I want to try to take is as far as I can. I’m going to go for the ’QS and try to get into the professional ranks.

What about school?

I’m doing homeschool right now, and I’m just about done. I have about three months left of school, then I graduate.

When I was in high school, homeschool was for bad kids who smoked cigarettes at lunch and stole cars. What’s homeschool like for you?

Well, my school is pretty unique. I do my classes over the Internet. I went to school until my junior year, then I started homeschool. I got all my hard classes done at school, so now I’m finishing up the basic ones at home.

What about prom and all that? Are you missing out on the girls and all the normal high school happenings?

Kind of. I wasn’t really involved in that when I was there, so not really.

Well, there’re way more girls out on the road than there are at your old high school anyway.

Do you ever feel a groupie vibe going on?

Never.

You should say, not yet. Pretty soon you’ll have to spray chicks with mace.

Nobody ever really notices me, except for in Ventura, just because I know everyone.

Oh, so you’re feeling the local groupies?

I don’t know about that. They’re like friends.

What are your expectations of being a pro surfer? You’re going to be put in some situations like being a rock star– models trying to hang out with you, all-night ragers on the beach in France.

I don’t know. I’ve gotten mixed reports about how hard the WQS is. In the first year you have to go from the first round. This year will decide everything.

What’s gonna happen if you go out there and just f–k up?

I’ll still be trying next year.

What about filming and shooting photos instead of contests?

It’s way more fun . I’ve been filming every day with my friend Jason Blanchard; he’s making a movie soon.

Do you like what you see when you watch yourself on video?

I go through phases. I’ll think I’m ripping, but I’ll see the footage and I’ll be squatting so bad. Then sometimes I’ll be having the worst session, and I’ll see the footage and it will be good.

Where have you been filming?

I’ve been filming at Rincon a lot this winter. Almost every time it broke.

Do you surf like Tom Curren?

I try to. I’ve been watching him and definitely try to mimic some of the stuff he does–I don’t know how good I do it, probably pretty bad.

Who else influences your surfing?

I surf with Kai and Kellen Ellison, and Chad Compton a lot. As far as contests go, there’re a lot of guys that surf really good. Travis Mellem, Brett Simpson, the Gadauskis brothers just to name a few–there’re a lot of them.

What about your Australian counterparts? Those guys are pretty gnarly.

That’s kind of why I’m going to Australia, to find out. I haven’t really seen any of them surf. I hear they surf really good.

Are you patriotic?

Yeah, but more about being from Ventura.

You should get a big Ventura tattoo.

Yeah, like across my whole back.

Will being a good-looking kid help your surf career?

Who ever said I was a good-looking kid?

Sorry, weird question. Are you good at interviews?

No, not even close. Especially when there’s a camera on me. I never know what to say.

Well, you better get used to it. Anyway, good luck on the ’QS, man. You’re starting your professional charge in two days–are you ready?

I think so, we’ll see what happens when I get there.

here and just f–k up?

I’ll still be trying next year.

What about filming and shooting photos instead of contests?

It’s way more fun . I’ve been filming every day with my friend Jason Blanchard; he’s making a movie soon.

Do you like what you see when you watch yourself on video?

I go through phases. I’ll think I’m ripping, but I’ll see the footage and I’ll be squatting so bad. Then sometimes I’ll be having the worst session, and I’ll see the footage and it will be good.

Where have you been filming?

I’ve been filming at Rincon a lot this winter. Almost every time it broke.

Do you surf like Tom Curren?

I try to. I’ve been watching him and definitely try to mimic some of the stuff he does–I don’t know how good I do it, probably pretty bad.

Who else influences your surfing?

I surf with Kai and Kellen Ellison, and Chad Compton a lot. As far as contests go, there’re a lot of guys that surf really good. Travis Mellem, Brett Simpson, the Gadauskis brothers just to name a few–there’re a lot of them.

What about your Australian counterparts? Those guys are pretty gnarly.

That’s kind of why I’m going to Australia, to find out. I haven’t really seen any of them surf. I hear they surf really good.

Are you patriotic?

Yeah, but more about being from Ventura.

You should get a big Ventura tattoo.

Yeah, like across my whole back.

Will being a good-looking kid help your surf career?

Who ever said I was a good-looking kid?

Sorry, weird question. Are you good at interviews?

No, not even close. Especially when there’s a camera on me. I never know what to say.

Well, you better get used to it. Anyway, good luck on the ’QS, man. You’re starting your professional charge in two days–are you ready?

I think so, we’ll see what happens when I get there.