Dane and his Courtney.
Dane and his Courtney. | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Voyeurism: Inside Dane Reynolds’ Garage

How do the other half live? Come peek.

I ask Dane Reynolds about his garage. The rain is falling steadily outside my Los Angeles home and I can hear it, through the phone, falling outside his oceanfront Ventura modern as well. I am wearing sheepskin slippers. I will guarantee Dane is not.

“First of all, its funny to me that since I can surf better than your average dude suddenly I’m expected to tell people all about myself. Share information about dumb things such as my car and my garage, which are totally average. My garage has a shitty door. It’s made of wood and the pieces have separated so that from the inside looking out you can spy on kids. My girlfriend hangs things on the wall about falconry and posters she collects, such as Thunder Down Under. It has a washer and a dryer and a mew for her red tail. There are boxes full of shit seldomly used such as Christmas lights, fog machines and plastic pumpkin heads. I put surfboards here when they are broken or don’t work. There are also trash cans.”

Dane surfs better than everyone in the world not just the “average dude.” A spy door, however shitty, is not average and spying on kids is also not average. Mostly it is illegal. Posters on walls are average but not ones featuring an all male Australian strip review (Thunder from Down Under) or falconry (unless the garage is in Saudi Arabia). Mews are not average. They are birdhouses designed for birds that love to kill. Like falcons etc. Or red-tailed hawks, ownership of which is always illegal without very special permits. Washers and dryers are average. Boxes of seldomly used Christmas lights are average. Fog machines are not average at all (unless the garage is in Lodi, New Jersey). Plastic pumpkin heads are not average either. Nor are tens of broken, unworkable surfboards. Trash cans are average.

“Now tell me about the book and CD” Dane says. I had lured him into calling by claiming that I have a book and some music that he will absolutely love. “The book is Death in the Afternoon. It is fantastic,” I respond. “And the music is Li’l Wayne’s rock n’ roll album The Rebirth.” I know he’ll likely be bored by Death and hate Rebirth.

Five Ways to Improve the World Surf League Right Now!

Hit it hard, hit it fast. And live a little… 

The first tour event starts in a few weeks. Wipe off the anticipatory saliva and bite in.

Is Gabriel a one-shot champ or is this is the start of an Andy Irons or, even, Kelly Slater-esque rule? Filipe? How’s his huck this year? Is John John interested in Snapper’s three-foot runners enough to fire his guns? Was Julian’s end-of-season form in Hawaii a sign that he’s shucked off his terrible form of early 2014?

And Joel, Mick, Kelly? Where do they fit in?

Excited? Yeah, we should be. So why does the thought of 12, 30-minute round one heats, the round two heats that soak up another half day, lay-days, women’s heats thrown in hither and thither, fill me with horror?

It shouldn’t be like this. The best surfing happens on tour. But the tour is flawed. Like a good-looking woman with poor dress sense and permanent tension in her mouth.

You want five ways to improve the tour, right now?

1. Reduce the tour from 34 to 12

Truth is, unless you have some kinda personal contact or affinity with anyone outside the top dozen, watching ’em tag waves to the beach does nothing for you, for me, or for the supposed greater audience the World Surf League is chasing. Sure, having 34 surfers guarantees a career for men who, let’s face it, ain’t Stevie Hawkings and would therefore be laying concrete or slapping paint on walls, but it ain’t taking the game forward. It’s making up numbers. And making up numbers means…

2. You’ve gotta finish an event in two days, max

Four days for men, three days for women. Two-week waiting periods. Endless calls. Endless standbys. It’s the most lurid tempo! No wonder such a ferocious sex hunger develops around tour events. You want to see an exciting sport. Go to Speedway. Three hours. A few heats and a winner-takes-all final. Spectators with no interest in motor sports are captivated. Surfing needs a full-day super jam, two if conditions turn to grease. Which means…

3. Forget combining men’s and women’s events

Oh! You get to use the same infrastructure thereby reducing costs? How ideal! It’s an uneasy coexistence. How many joints do you know can deliver a week of good waves within a two or three-week period, across all tides? It don’t happen. And so you’re left with crucial heats running in the crummiest and most inconsistent closeouts.

Speaking of tides and inconsistent closeouts…

4. Portugal has to be iced

What should be a sideshow of tuberiding and shorebreak tumbling has become the event where world title hopes and dreams of victory are dashed upon Supertubos’ shallow sandbank. Kelly knows. And Jordy Smith, the best surfer there last year, sat in a miserable ocean and caught one wave in the final (Click on the play button to watch). That ain’t sport at its best.

5. Live a little

Bottom line, y’ain’t ever going to get even a slice of the football or soccer or basketball crowds. Surfing is too subjective, too hard to understand. So, live a little. Let the guys on the mic, all of whom know a thing or two, loosen up.

If you don’t terrorise, it’s not surfing.

History: Naming Josh Kerr’s Club Sandwich

When JK nailed the under-the-lip reverse who knew what to call it! He wanted yahtzee, I wanted Club Sandwich. Guess who won!

Remember back in 2007 when Josh Kerr nailed his first-ever under-the-lip-grab-rail-reverse in competition?  It was Snapper, his opponent was Mick Fanning and he… lost. 

Kelly Slater got so high on it he called it the best move ever in a contest. What’s rad is it still gets the spectators’ toes tapping and judges jabbing fingers in the eight range on their little scoring tablet.

I recorded this interview shortly after the event and christened it the Club Sandwich…

BeachGrit: I believe you’ve been calling this turn a Yahtzee. I much prefer the name The Club Sandwich purely because, like the sandwich, it has everything stuffed inside it: reversed, upside-down, rail grabbed…

JOSH KERR: Yeah, mmmmmm, I hear what you’re saying but I honestly don’t care what you call it – it’s just a grabbed reverse, really.

I’d wager that’s your modesty speaking. And, as an aside, no one has ever won a string of world titles by being modest. You and I both agree that it’s far more than a grab-rail reverse.

(Warming up) Yeah! It’s sick! It’s an upside-down-grabbed-reverse, that’s just what I call it. But I’m feeling The Club Sandwich. Shaun Hazza (Harrington) was trying them a while back and I was trying to copy him and I started to get really upside down. It’s the only way I can do those grab-rail reverses.

Tell me your response to Kelly’s hyperbole about the turn being the best ever in competition… 

It was heavy. I don’t think The Club Sandwich – see, now I’m using it – is that crazy a move. A lot of guys could do it if they tried it. It’s one of those ones that no one’s tried. But, y’know, it was pretty friggen crazy when I heard Kelly had said that.

In your quarter-final heat at Snapper, you needed a nine on your final wave and you didn’t get the score. Did you feel undervalued given the move’s entertainment value?

The crazy thing is, if I’d pulled into a little tube out the back, they would’ve given me the score – if I had clinged inside a non-critical tube, if I’d just pulled into a bit of crap out the back, I would’ve scored highly and got through. Judging should be about the critical turns you do on a wave.

Despite the talk of rewarding critical surfing, do you therefore believe it’s still the gentleman who rides the biggest wave for the longest time whilst spasming that gets the most points?

Yeah, but then they’ll go all crazy. Like in the first round, Bruce did a big layback snap and they gave him a nine plus – for one turn and a layback snap. Nine points. That’s good judging.

Perhaps, and this is just a theory of mine, no judge wants to be seen rewarding something that might, as time progresses, turn out to be easy. Like a frontside reverse in 1991, for instance.

Definitely, definitely. I’m sure none of those dudes have done of those things. Why should they be judging it?

But if we used your unrealistic standard, as you suggest, current WCT surfing could only be judged by Andy, Kelly, Joel and a few others.

(Conceding interviewer’s fatal lunge) Yeah, I know. It’s weird. It’s one of those sporting things. That’s why skateboarding’s not about contests, it’s about video sections. And that’s what makes a good skateboarder. Everyone surfs different; its such an expressionistic sport.

Okay, let’s talk about The Club Sandwich. I’m about to go surfing, I wanna do one, take me to my field of dreams…

Well. First of all, I try and fade before I go up so when I do the bottom turn I’m almost straight up, my board’s at 12 o’clock. When I hit I try and actually grab my rail just as I’m transitioning from the bottom turn to the other rail. This is almost mid face. It’s pretty early, but it’s the best way. You wanna be looking up at a lip that’s already start to throw out otherwise you’ll go through it and it’ll be an air. Start the actual turn early, mid-face, and as soon as your board hits the lip you really rip it around. Put your other hand in the face of the wave and put all your pressure on the front foot and throw your board and body upside down and throw the fins back toward the beach. It happens really quickly. Because you’ve got so much momentum, your board swings around really quickly from the fins grabbing. Sometimes I do that and my body keeps spinning and I fall off because my board wants to go straight but my body doesn’t. You’ve gotta stay low because you’re hitting a lip that’s gonna barrel. I mean, expect a barrelling lip on the back as you come out of it. Stay low.

That’s one of the better step-by-step descriptions for a move I’ve heard. Simple yet instructive. 


Update: Maybe the Pipe Masters Ain’t So Illegal!

Not with a bang but with a whimper, BeachGrit's investigation on the legality of the Pipe Masters closes… 

Like negotiating any bureaucratic mire, filing a document request with the City and County of Honolulu is a tediously time consuming exercise in frustration and patience. Documents are provided in a timely manner, though governmental definitions of timely leave a bit to be desired.

Copies of the permits granted, as well as related emails, show that the once-ASP/henceforth WSL was in fact in possession of variances which allowed them to run “four man staggered heats and man-on-man heats for the Quarters, Semi’s and Final”[sic].

They also reveal a rather cosy relationship between International Professional Surfing (the non-profit under which Randy Rarick applied for and was granted the permit) and the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation. No real surprise in Hawaii, a place which places a premium on interpersonal relationships (only sometimes to its detriment.)

Of course, the current regulations don’t allow for any such variances, but it should come as no surprise that the age-old precept that money makes it own rules holds as true now as ever. And you can’t really fault the WSL for taking advantage of exceptions which were requested and freely granted.

The fact does remain that the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation chose to disregard local regulations in granting the variances, but that’s another matter entirely.

What at first seemed to be a case of an evil outside force exploiting a local community in pursuit of the almighty dollar is instead the mundane matter of an appointed representative using his discretionary powers.

And, like any time something like this occurs, it’s now up to the residents of Oahu’s North Shore to decide if they want to kick and scream and force a change, or sit back, let matters be, and reap the supposed economic benefits of acquiescence.

Kelly Slater interviews with CNN
Kelly Slater interviews with CNN in 1992. And you wonder why the cat is so sharp in his interviews, so able to use the interviewers' nervousness against 'em, so able to jab at his competitors with barbed praise, so adept at the game of athletic propaganda. He's had a microphone aimed at his face since he was a dozen years old.

Note to surf stars: How to screw up an interview!

Want to make it big in the surf game? Learn to speak. With candour.

It ain’t difficult to win in the surf media game. Throw out a quote or two that isn’t riddled with platitudes and we’re going to eat it up. A so-so surfer can soar to unimagined heights while a Surf League level guy will sink into oblivion.

Want to know what to do when a creep with a microphone approaches or lights up your email or phone?

First, here are the three big no’s…

1. The answers sent from an iPhone. Jesus, how hard can it be?  You travel the world toting a MacBook Air, yet, judging by your answers you save that for porn and would rather thumb your half-assed answers via phone to a writer hoping to further your career by cobbling together 1000 words by noon.  C’mon guys, take a leaf out of Grant “Twiggy” Baker’s book and do the world a favour by peppering your answers with the odd adjective and sentence structure consisting of more than, “yes/no”, “it was sick”, “It’s hard lugging so many bards around,” or even worse, “The waves didn’t get as good as we hoped they would.”

2. The reformed Hawaiian heavy angle: Yep, we get it. Couple convictions to your name and the prospect of (more) prison time for one last little misdemeanour.  Look, we love the fact you’re now hoping to make a difference to the world but it don’t mean you can’t spray a little verbal assault down the phone line does it? Let’s be honest, it’s what we love you for!

3. The, “Could you run this by the team manager before you print this?” guy: Unless you’re in the top five, chances are you’ll be off the team by December anyway, so, live a little buddy, tell us what really happened that time you went drinking with Wardo.

And the big yes? 

Be honest, cavalier even. Take a chance. Look into the void and jump.

In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Moderation is fatal, nothing succeeds like excess.”