Eleven Moments That Defined 2011

11 Dane’s Departure

Not with a bang, but with a whimper, Dane is officially off the tour.

In a post titled “Declaration of Independence,” he waffled eloquently and long-windedly about his year "on tour." But the eventual point of the piece came when he stated:

“and so here i am. 26. officially off tour. wasted talent. blown potential. refusing responsibility. ‘all he wants to do is sit at home and play with crayons and ride fucked up boards.’ but wait! but wait! that’s not true! don’t listen to chris mauro. he’s a dinosaur. doesn’t get it. this may be the end as a wct contender, but its also a new beginning. i feel like a baseball. the skins been carefully pried off and there’s a thread and i’m gonna pull it and i’m gonna end up a pile of string on the floor. but then maybe i’ll be knit into something more useful, like a sweater.”   --Dane Reynolds, Dec. 20, 2011

Gone but not gone at all. It’s nice to know that he knows what we knew all along, but none of us (even him) wanted to admit.

10 Matt Meola $100,000 Section

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Matt Meola. Photo: JimmicaneMatt who? It's not even funny anymore. We know exactly Matt who. But did you know before he blew up on Taylor Steele's open-source video farm leagues?

This is how freesurfers make it. See for yourself.

This year Meola's section features Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson.

09 Bobby’s Tirade

“I don’t want to be a part of this dumb wanna-be fucking tennis tour.”

And with that statement, Bobby out-newsed a Hail Mary swell for NYC WT event, Kelly’s "best air ever" and Owen’s $100k comeback final.

Bob was funny, and Bob was on the money.

Nobody heeded his battle cry. But it sounded nice anyway.

And for the record, we don’t like tennis either.

08 Encyclopedia of Surfing…For the People

Even as surf historian Matt Warshaw was finishing his 10,000-page Encyclopedia of Surfing paperweight, the paperbook was falling out of date. Deaths. Titles. Discoveries. History is alive. Books are dead.

"The book is actually weeping on my shelf about how bad it wants to be a website," Warshaw said in his online video. But instead of begging brands for support, Warshaw took the project to the people, launching a month-long Kickstarter page to raise the necessary $20k to get the site live.

Thanks to 265 rapid donations, Warshaw overshot his goal in a mere 8-days. In mid-2012 surfing's greatest historical artifact will no long be a historical artifact. Nice work, The People.

07 Garrett McNamara's "90-Footer"

"90-feet?…then my penis is 15-inches," wrote Peahi paddle-guy Albee Layer. Yes, the rapid claims, fuzzy measuring and dorky news commentators rubbed us all a little bit wrong, but when you strip all that away, it was a great, big wave at a new European spot. G-Mac charged it. He just shoulda let the wave speak for itself, and not those kooky PR people.

Newscaster's description: "He's hanging, like, 15 right there."

(warning: these commentators will make you embarrassed to be a "surfer dude")

06 Gabriel Medina on Tour

In 2009, 15-year old Gabriel Medina surfed a lay-day "King of the Groms" heat during the Quiksilver Pro France that left the WCT surfers on the beach shuddering. This kid was the future.

Check it out. (Caio Ibelli is pretty scary, too)

Two years later, the future is upon us. Just 17 years old, the Brazilian sensation won two of his first four WCT events. Parko says: "He's one of the best surfers I've ever seen."

Let's see what he does with a full year.

05 Code Red Tahiti

August 27th. It was a big swell. Everyone was there. Dylan Longbottom made it out of one. Laurie Towner made one. And this other guy, too. The rest were closeouts.

Dean Morrison broke his foot. Bruce Irons lost his boardies. And Nathan Fletcher got the most close-out wave coverage ever.

Everyone who let go of the rope this day deserves a medal. And a hard slap.

04 Carissa’s Win

Carissa Moore. Photo: DJ StruntzThe women's world tour ended this year in July. In Huntington. There was no Hawaii, but had there been, the result surely would have been the same. It was only a matter of time before 19-year-old Carissa Moore ended Steph's happy streak. And we wouldn't be surprised if she starts a streak of her own.

03 Sion Milosky Dies

Sion Milosky was in the prime of his life. Thirty-six years old. Rising star. New daughter. Loved and respected by all. When he drowned at Mavericks on March 17, it was a tragedy of unspeakable magnitude; a tragedy we are even still coming to terms with.

You can still contribute to Sion’s memorial fund for his family

02 Kelly’s 11th x 2

Kelly Slater. Photo: ShermLet's not get off track here and dig up the fact that the ASP accidentally prematurely awarded a world title (hey, what sport hasn't done that?), leading to director Brodie Carr committing career seppuku and...well, now we're getting sidetracked. Slater still won. Some things are inevitable.

The real story is this: after everything he's already accomplished, Kelly Slater continues to amaze us. To surprise us. To inspire us. He's not just winning events, setting records and doing it all at an age when most have long since retired...he's pushing the limits of design, technology, freesurfing and god-damn everything else.

Just watch this air (again) from New York and it says it all. He's not slowing down one bit. And this title is as impressive as any other.

01 Tsunami Hits Japan

John John Florence, Japan. Photo: LawrenceWatching those waves roll in off the ocean. Washing buildings away like sandcastles. Carrying cars, houses and everything else in a filthy soup of industry and progress. It broke our hearts. It shook our worlds. And it put it everything into perspective.

If 2012 is really the end of the world, we're going surfing right now.

And if it's not, we're going surfing again.

Post Script (guess the year wasn't quite over yet)

#0: Sean Collins...RIP

While compiling this list, news of Surfline founder and forecasting pioneer Sean Collins' reached my inbox. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/dec/26/surf-legend-sean-collins-dies/

Collins has been listed amongst the "25 Most Influential Surfers of All-Time" and it's been argued that his impact is greater than even Kelly Slater's, since he's affected all our daily lives with his forecasting knowledge and services.

While most people know that Collins and his Surfline team forecast events for the ASP, few realize how much effort and time he's given to individual swell-chasers over the years in helping them track down waves around the world and on the fly. There's a little bit of Sean Collins in almost every photo, video and epic moment you've seen in the past two decades…and beyond that, he was just a good person: kind, generous and thoughtful.

Yet another tragic note for 2011. RIP Sean.