“Style” will always differentiate sports like surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding from structured sports like baseball and football. It’s the idea that accomplishment can be measured in more than just points and victory—that it can also be measured in aesthetics and personal nuances. While it may not be an official category in the ASP judging criteria, any surfer will tell you that what you do on a wave is equally as important as how you do it.
The origins of style in surfing can be traced back through iconic names like Rob Machado, Joel Parkinson, Dave Rastovich, Joel Tudor, Alex Knost, the Irons brothers, Kelly Slater, Matt Archbold, Tom Curren, Martin Potter, Mark Occhilupo, Mark Richards, Michael Peterson, Wayne Lynch, Gerry Lopez, Shaun Thomson, Rabbit Bartholomew, Buttons Kaluhiokalani, Barry Kanaiaupuni, Larry Bertleman, Miki Dora, Phil Edwards, David Nuuhiwa, Eddie Aikau, and even Duke Kahanamoku.
The question now is who of today’s youngsters will leave his mark on the world of surfing—which of them has a style that will prove to be truly timeless? The following three surfers are making quite the argument for themselves.
No surfer since Kelly Slater has had such an impact within the surf industry and culture as Ventura, California’s Dane Reynolds. Raised on the wrapping right points of Santa Barbara and the punchy beachbreaks of Ventura, Reynolds has carved his own path in surfing much like style god and fellow Santa Barbara native Tom Curren did. Both pushed the limits of style and progression, and both are somewhat reclusive and enigmatic. With a wild and raw style, highlighted by moments of sheer brilliance, Dane has set the bar for both style and progression. As 2012 World Tour Rookie of the Year John John Florence puts it in the video below, “He was the first one to bring that kind of power and that new innovation into surfing.”
Dane’s influence can be seen in what we ride—his “Dumpster Diver” surfboard is the best selling surfboard model of all time (and he brought carbon tail strips back into fashion in one fell swoop). And it can be seen in what we wear—he became the first surfer to start his own clothing line while riding for a surfwear company. Quiksilver would eventually take over his “Summer Teeth” line, and has since derailed it, but hey, at least he stepped out of the pro surfer mold a bit.
John John Florence
John John Florence has been in the public eye since he was a child, having grown up on the beach at Pipeline in Hawaii, and he learned from many of the legends mentioned above. As he matured he began spending a lot of time skating the newly completed Banzai Rock skate park across the street from Pipe. The result is the unmistakable style that we see out of Double John today—his arms always calmly at his side, whether he’s surfing 2-foot Ehukai or 12-foot Pipe, making his movements look effortless.
Newcastle, Australia’s Craig “Ando” Anderson has evolved into perhaps the most stylish of the bunch, harnessing a Rob Machado-esque grace about him, peppered with a freakishly modern aerial game. With the lanky frame, curly mop of hair, tucked-knee stance, and the casual yet lightning-fast lines he draws, as long as he keeps his fins in the water you’d swear you were watching Rob, which is quite the compliment to the young Aussie. On a side note, Ando is currently working with none other than Dane Reynolds on his first biopic film, titled “Slow Dance,” due out later this year.