The other day the big story coming off the ASP wire was Dane Reynolds' awakening in Round Two. Well, the story remains the same in Round Three. Out of the precisely 353 waves that have been ridden in the Rip Curl Pro thus far, Dane has the two highest individual scores. And out of the 48 heats that have been surfed, he also has the two highest two-wave totals.
Those two simple facts speak volumes about a guy whose only goal in his rookie campaign has been to not "sacrifice progressive type of surfing to fit the criteria." Even without curtailing the unbridled, go-for-broke approach that's garnered him so much attention over the past several years, Dane's doing some damage. And while he's way too easygoing to ever admit that he harbors a deep desire to crush his fellow man, somewhere behind the mustache and new sea gull tattoo is a mind that's at least entertained the thought.
So often he's been described as being cut from the same cloth as a free surfer like Bruce Irons, but that's not entirely accurate. In a recent interview in an Australian surf magazine, last year's free-surf sensation Josh Kerr remarked that life on tour's been detrimental to Bruce's surfing. But there's one obvious difference between Dane and Bruce. Whereas Bruce seems to lose interest relatively quickly if the waves are capable of killing you, Dane's a true, blue California kid, just as happy being left alone in waist-high, onshore slop as he is in perfect points or throaty wedges.
True, he hasn't been tested in all that high-pressure of a situation, but considering the way things are shaping up at Bells, that'll come soon enough. As it looks right now, there are no easy heats left in this event. Andy, Bede, Bobby, Kelly, Mick, Parko, Taj, they're all still going, and none have shown an inkling of desire to take the foot off the accelerator. Quite the contrary actually, with promise of swell on the way, it's pedal to the metal until the wheels fall off.
And as for Jordy Smith, Dane's South African rookie counterpart, proving that sometimes experience trumps god-given ability, he bombed out to Danny Wills in Round Two. There's no question long-time tour vets aren't yet ready to yield to this new guard. "I've been coming here for a long time," explained Danny to the media after his heat. "Experience paid off I suppose."
Whether Dane makes it past Roy Powers in Round Four remains to be seen, but judging by what he's done thus far, it's highly conceivable that he could soon be on his way to the first WCT quarterfinal of his career—a heat in which he could face off against Taj. At the very least, it'll be his best finish on tour to date, and for Dane, considering he's maintained his integrity in the process, that's probably good enough.