We came within 20 seconds of seeing Dane Reynolds make Second Chapter. "I don't think I'd still be doing contests if I'd lost that heat," Dane said of his WQS turning point at Margaret River just over a month ago. "I needed a 5.5 and got a 5.7. Then I just kept making heats, got on a roll, got a 3rd, and 2250 points (1000 points is generally a keeper score) and now I'm all psyched again." Yeah, psyched and sitting number 3 on the WQS and looking very poised to qualify for the 2008 WCT. Talk about a rollercoaster.
Dane Reynolds' teetering psyche on competition is enough to make the cruisiest cat a little nervous, but slugging it out is just not his style. "Everyone I compete against lives and dies to win their heat," Dane said. "I don't even get that much satisfaction out of making heats — at least not enough to balance how angry I get when I lose."
And that's the nature of the 'QS. It's a dirty cockfight; you have to scratch, stab and claw to get points and it's not how Dane surfs. He doesn't want to paddle around anyone. He doesn't want to hit it one last time in the shorepound. He doesn't want to fly from Western Australia to Scotland to South Africa to chase points he may or may not get. What he does want to do is sit out the back at J-Bay with priority and show the world that the struggle on the 'QS is bullshit and he deserves to be on the WCT. And while the WQS is how it works these days, anyone who's seen Dane's movie will vouch he belongs at the top of the sport, however he gets there. Fortunately for Dane, it looks like that 5.7 may prove he has just enough fight to balance that freaky talent and get him out of surfing purgatory and on the Dream Tour next year.
And then there's Jordy Smith. While Dane teeters on edge about competing in a constant struggle with himself about what he wants to do; Jordy is poised as his polar opposite: a thoroughbred stallion of competitive genius and precision. Even Dane admits it. "Jordy was made for this shit," he says. "He's an 'every wave is over an 8' kind of guy. He's a machine."
And Jordy's proved it time and time again. He proved it by making the semis at J-Bay last year as a wildcard. He proved it all winter in Hawaii, making the finals at Sunset and blowing every person who saw him away. Combined with a style that makes even Parko squirm it's so reminiscent of his own, Jordy could bring game to the tour of likes we've never seen before.
So as the WQS grinds away, kicking and screaming through the summer, pay close attention to this teeter-totter of style and approach from two of surfing's most entertaining and explosive surfers. Jordy and Dane could very well provide a future showcase of contrasting styles, personality and attitude like we haven't seen since, well Andy Irons and Kelly Slater. Wait, they're still on the 'CT.
Let's just say things on the WCT could get very interesting in 2008.
[Continue to track Dane and Jordy's journey to the WCT at www.surfingmagazine.com or become a WQS number cruncher at www.ASPWORLDTOUR.com and see how it all works.]