Do you remember when Dane Reynolds, as a freshly dropped out ‘CT competitor, double-hand dragged his way through heaving Le Gravière barrels all the way to the final of the 2012 Quiksilver Pro France? As a wildcard? Of course you do. With the waiting period for the contest beginning next week, and it being “Throwback Thursday” today, let’s revisit why the 2012 event was the best contest to ever set up shop on that sandy French shoreline.
The surf for the event was unruly and powerful. For those who could find rhythm, or in Reynolds’ word, “Luck,” post-heat interviews were full of hyperbole likening the conditions to Backdoor. For those competitors that spent their heat getting flogged and breaking boards, their single digit scores at the sound of the hooter did the talking for them.
Reynolds made the thumping beachbreak look all-time not just to the judges, but to the spectators and fellow competitors too. “Dane’s probably one of the most talented surfers of all time,” Joel Parkinson said at the event. With the way Reynolds stalled at the top of each wave before standing up, a strategy that setup late drops into rifling tube sections, maximizing barrel time, Parko’s statement was undeniable.
Starting with his round one win against title contender Parkinson, Reynolds kicked off his onslaught of king slayings early in the event. Mick Fanning, another title contender, was shown no mercy by Reynolds and fell to his tuberiding prowess in round three. John Florence, who was also on fire all event long, would be Reynolds’ next victim by edging out the phenom by a tenth of a point in the semis.
All but two boards of Reynolds’ quiver were stolen the night before finals day. Reynolds snapped one of them in his semi against Florence--see the dramatic lip attempt at the 3:27 mark above. Reynolds’ only remaining board was one he made himself that he was forced to surf in the final against the king, Kelly Slater. According to Reynolds, his luck ran out in the final and Slater beat him for his first win ever at France.
Reynolds’ performance at the event left competitive surf fans wondering why he walked away from the tour all over again. “He doesn’t care about pro surfing but pro surfing cares a lot about him,” Simon Anderson said. Reynolds would go on, even to this day, to produce video parts far more inspiring and memorable than anything he could pull off in a jersey. But oh how the 2012 Quiksilver Pro France makes us wish he was there, making impossible barrel sections and top seeds fret all at the same time.
Revisit the memorable contest through Reynolds’ eyes in an abridged edit above and watch a long form recap below.