Trendsetting, worship-inspiring pro surfer from Ventura, California; world-ranked #4 in 2010, but best known as an anti-establishment freesurfing genius. "Whatever Dane Reynolds does, says and thinks", said Stab magazine in 2010, "will direct surfing into the future."
Reynolds was born (1985) in Long Beach, California, moved with his family to Ventura when he was 10, began surfing shortly thereafter, and was competing by age 13. Three years later he dropped out of high school to surf full time—"kind of a stupid decision" he later told Vogue magazine—and competed reasonably well on the amateur circuit. His star turn came in Quiksilver's 2005 video Young Guns 2, in which the 19-year-old Reynolds blew away the surf world with a seamless combination of brute power and acrobatic aerial maneuvers. Later that same year three-time world champion Andy Irons called him "the best freesurfer in the world," a phrase that would prophetically define Reynolds' entire career.
Bigger than most pros (6'0", 175 pounds), Reynolds supported his strong frame with a wide regularfoot stance, often rode thicker, stubbier equipment, and loaded his turns with a channeled violence that belied his self-effacing manner on land. He qualified for the ASP world tour in 2008, finished the season ranked #22, and was the easy choice for Rookie of the Year. He climbed to #10 in 2009, and ended the 2010 season ranked #4.
But as a competitor, Reynolds often didn't have his head in the game, and often seemed either straightjacketed or bored in a contest jersey. "I feel surfing as a sport is arbitrary," a blasé Reynolds told an interviewer in 2010. "We really travel around the world to have people give us scores while we're out surfing? It's just retarded."
Disinterested in his ranking and bothered by lingering injuries, Reynolds finished the 2011 ASP season ranked a disappointing 38th, and then dropped off the tour. "I feel like a baseball," Reynolds wrote in a much-talked-about essay posted on his website, MarineLayerProductions. "The skin has been 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."
Reynolds also dabbled in art and fashion design, and ads for his "Summer Teeth" T-shirt line shared space on MarineLayerProductions with snippets of avant-garde French cinema and videos of him riding strange surfboards. Yet even as he moved outside of surfing's usual commercial channels, the Dane Reynolds brand remained pure marketing gold. Channel Islands, Reynolds' longtime boardmaker, couldn't produce enough of his signature board designs, and in 2011 Reynolds signed a six-year contract with longtime sponsor Quiksilver for $23 million dollars; only fellow Quiksilver team rider Kelly Slater was earning more.
Reynolds has been featured in dozens of surf videos including Campaign (2003), Sipping Jetstreams (2006), Modern Collective (2009), Lost Atlas (2011), and Dear Suburbia (2012). He finished in the top three of the Surfer Magazine Poll Awards four times (2008-2010), and his breakout film First Chapter won Best Video at the 2006 Surfer Poll Awards.