Renaissance Coming: Exhibit B

posted by / News / April 14, 2011

This five-part series examines the cultural tremors shedding light on surfing’s future.

Exhibit B: More Than Four to the Shore

Dane Reynolds screengrab from the surf website most worth visiting. Including ours.


“With a freesurfer, it’s just a big, blank gray area. You can tread your own path. You don’t have to do things people have done in the past. If you can come up with different ways to do it, the companies are more open to that, but they are still so contest-driven.” —Dion Agius


Surfing has a long way to go before it reaches the diversity of career paths offered by skating and snowboarding. But there are signs that the potential to take an alternative route to pro surf stardom is opening up. Take the continued popularity of “personality pros” like Oscar Wright, Dave Rastovich and Nathan Fletcher, for example — all despite showing no aptitude with the biggest tool of the modern freesurfer.

Dion Agius, Wade Goodall, Sterling Spencer, Paul Fisher and the “3 Slobs” are just a few from among the tech generation to meld surfing, creativity and the Internet to unlock a career.



Dane Reynolds is another to boost his profile using the blog format (his website attracts nearly two million hits a month) but is yet to reveal whether he will opt for this path or return to competition following recent knee surgery.

“In the ’90s the Net wasn’t so big and videoing wasn’t so easy. You had to be the man to get videoed. Now everyone is doing it DIY and putting it on the Net themselves. It’s so much easier and everyone can see it. You don’t have to go watch a contest to see your favorite surfer surf,” says Australian tech-gen surfer Thom Pringle of the new trend.

Player managers say that the contest route is still your best bet to make a career out of surfing, but industry insiders also say companies are warming to the idea of alternative marketing strategies for their surfers.

If surfing even vaguely heads in the direction of skating and snowboarding — where competing is almost redundant compared to the photo- and footage-gathering game — this will have considerable ramifications for the culture. A generation of surfers forced to bring more to the table than supreme talent will guide the sport in the direction of creativity and experimentation for which it was once renowned. Dane’s decision will significantly impact the severity of this cultural tremor. —Jed Smith



Sterling Spencer and Nate Tyler clip from PinchMySalt.


Next in Renaissance Coming: solar flares from our biggest star.



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  • jon Tregen

    I work for a major snow brand, and actually disagree. Surfing is way ahead of the game due to the fact that it has a world tour so well put together. Few other sports can claim bringing so much hype and importance to a world title. Skateboarding and Snowboarding are behind, as they haven’t been able to create a single world tour attracting all the best (which is the case for surfing). Surfing is more professionalized, and sk8 and snow are basically 20 years behind.

  • Joey Stalin

    did you seriously just mention the “3 SlOBS” as people that are changing surfing?? youve got to be buttfucking kidding me.

  • Joey Stalin

    This (apart from anything to do with dane) is the lamest article ive ever seen posted. Surfing is so stagnant and boring that companies are seeing no other option but to take an interest in the trending fashion/image side of surfing. WHile they continue to make billions off of surfers, who are making a miniscule fraction of that revenue, now there will be more industry clones ruining trends and looking dumber than ever.

  • twists

    working cashier at burton doesn’t really give you insight on either industry, jon.

  • Yall Kooks

    Joey Stalin youre a kook go home. This article is cool — and correct. Surfing’s so great because its now formalized, a similar format to tennis (the ATP, like the ASP) however tennis does not allow the creativity that surfing provides,–as a professional tennis player, youre on tour or youre not a professional. the creativity and diversity that surfing offers is so vast and gives individuals so many angles to market themselves as an athlete through video clips — something other sports don’t have. Things like Innersection are great for surfing, because it gives a competitive nature to freesufers. I may just be rambling, but i like this article because it made me think how cool it is, that you don’t need to compete to make it is a surfer.

  • killyridols

    you guys do know that one of the 3 Slobs competes all the time right?

  • stu

    forget about the Slobs, did you really just suggest that Sterling Spencer has a career? And I thought Chas was reaching…

  • hammerbone`

    All the media wants to do is have these kids throw away any goals and just be posers like themselves. Competitive structure is the only thing that legitimizes anything, now granted its not for everyone, but these guys that act like they dont care and still enter into events are a bunch of bull S—ters. they care more then anyone else and are the guys that sit around and write terrible things about all there peers that are competitively successful.

  • Nice ONe

    Swing from a car i fell out just before i noticed that jeep add below. the dumber the article the more web views…we are all dump and need to read dumb stuff, its just the facts. no one wants to read something that is true and real. we salute you surfing magazine for being the dumbest surf publication out their.

  • Ben

    Agreed that Dane is on an entirely different level. In my life only two, Dane and Bruce, are exciting enough free surfers that people put them in the same headspace as the best tour warriors.

  • broken femur

    Watching alcoholic derelicts called free surfers has no impact on me whatsoever. They can pull off more technical tricks, but have no real legitimacy beyond a video clip and surf camera time. They find themselves in the media and darlings of the industry, but do not challenge their repertoire against the world’s best.

  • broken femur

    It is only until the last five years that we witness the actual greatness of what pro surfing can become: pro progressional surfing.

    We no longer look to Taylor Steele or clips from the “Search.”

    We see “momentum” come to life before our eyes in heats.

    We see Dusty, Owen, Jordy, Dane, etc light it up.

    Dusty’s move last year and Pat G’s rodeo flip, and a few others’ rides were the exclamation points of this cry of the dawn of professional progressive surfing.

    We all get stoked to view the heats live put on by Quik and Billabong.
    Even though I can bitch about the industry, I am grateful of their investment in allowing me to witness the greatness of Dane Reynolds and others live.

    Its not 3-4 to the beach, but one jaw dropping move where you might say, “did you see that?” the next day to your buds.

  • heyguys

    all you kooks cant rip as hard as the fools anyway so just surf and quit whining about the tour you’re never gonna be on