We all knew this day would come. Dane has been dropping not-so-subtle hints for most of the past year (he said it outright in our November issue): pulling out of the J-Bay event due to "injury" and then releasing Lost Interest, and generally surfing like he doesn't care about making heats. Unfortunately, that's the kind of surfing that a lot of us want to watch. So what effect will Dane's departure have on the perception of the Tour, and his fan's perception of him?
My guess is the World Tour will get along fine without him. And by fine, I mean that it will continue to discredit itself by making giant mathematical blunders, confusing its fans and making up rules as they go. Still, people will continue watching it because that's where they can see some of the greatest surfing talent in the world in one place. The influx of fresh blood will certainly help as well, with Gabriel Medina, John John Florence, and now Kolohe Andino generating a hype-cloud visible from space.
As for Dane, the only way this is a good thing for us fans is if Dane gets productive and makes the best signature film we've ever seen with his copious amounts of free time. After the release of our Interview Issue we received a number of emails from people writing in to say that when your job is to travel the world and surf, you shouldn't complain about the minutia of competition. His Tour departure wont sit well with his fans unless he can show them that he's forsaking the Tour in favor of showing us more, even better surfing than he would in heats.
Whenever any surfer slips from the World Tour, there's a danger of them drifting into obscurity. The question is: Will Dane still be captivating groms around the world a year from now? Or will they all have simply lost interest?