Dane Doesn’t Win

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Mick Fanning victorious at the Hurley Pro
By Stuart Cornuelle

It’s absolute Beavermania out there, and yet Dane Reynolds hasn’t won a contest in recent memory. He doesn’t have to. He’s still the most talked-about, imitated surfer around. Chew that one over with a Twix.

Today was the closest Dane has come to a victory on the World Tour. He reached the final of the Hurley Pro at Lowers before literally falling to the cyborg Mick Fanning. Mick did carves and tailslides, all frontside, all on set waves, all the way to the inside, like a man who’s read and memorized ASP Heats For Dummies. The 2004 edition. He was predictably amazing, but in the presence of the Great Dane, that’s like longboarding.

Dane-love has reached a fever pitch. Orders are pouring in for his new 5’7″ Dumpster Diver surfboard. Kids are rooting through Goodwill stores trying to find an old denim shirt to match Dane’s latest favorite. Dane’s aerial threes, his love affair with ale and coffee, his artsy bent and facial hair all have the boys swooning. Other surfers – Mick, Parko, Taj, the Hobgoods, and even Kelly – are still incredible. They’re surfing the best they ever have. Maybe not Kelly. But they’re sort of like Agent Smith in The Matrix, if you’ve seen that movie. They surf by the rules, so they’ll never be as exciting as Dane – the bearded Neo – because Dane surfs beyond the rules. Anyway, that’s all been said before, and there’s no use in piling on the hype.

But today’s final brought a new issue to bear on the Reynolds phenomenon: What if Dane were to win? Would he…would he raise his hands up in celebration? Would he spray champagne around the stage and yell “Whooooo!”? It’s an awkward image, one that doesn’t sync well with Dane’s devil-may-care approach to pro surfing. Would a victory make competition cool, or would it make Dane uncool? The surfing trend-mafia out there have a real existential crisis on their hands with this one.

Nobody has to worry about that for now. Mick, after trouncing a slippery-footed Slater (who put up a very French and disappointing fight) in the semis, scored two high eights against Dane and was never challenged. The final was plagued by a long lull, and Reynolds didn’t get to his feet until the heat was 20 minutes deep. It was a little boring.

“This is like watching slugs race,” said Kai Barger.

And that, put simply, is how spoiled we are by great surfing. It takes a monster fin-ditch or a fully-rotated air, or both, to drag our attention away from two seagulls fighting over a bread crust down the beach. This is dangerous. Methinks we expect too much, as when wanting an airbrushed and bulimic Vogue model instead of the cute girl next door. If everyone dumps their eggs in the Dane Reynolds basket, we’ll all be really disappointed when Dane quits surfing and moves to North Dakota.