Dane Reynolds will receive a sponsor's wildcard into the 2012 Quiksilver Pro Australia. The event kicks off the 2012 ASP World Tour season and runs from Feb. 25-Mar. 7.
Just when you thought ol' Reynolds had traded his jersey for a ratty v-neck for good, on Jan. 31 the ASP announced that he could even be seeded against the floating orb of greatness that is 11-time world champion Kelly Slater.
A coup de grâce for Quiksilver's marketing department if ever there was one.
In 2010 Reynolds finished third at the Quiksilver Pro. His quarterfinal heat against Joel Parkinson remains a watershed moment in competitive surfing. Reynolds exploded for a near perfect heat score of 19.20, surfing right on the edge control and oblivion. Ultimately he would end 2010 rated forth in the world.
A year later, plagued by a knee injury, Reynolds withdrew from the 2011 Quiksilver Pro. As the '11 season progressed he made no illusions about his lack of interest in the ASP format. The remainder of the year saw him miss tour stops at Bells Beach, Rio, Jeffreys Bay, Tahiti, New York, Trestles and Portugal. The ASP fined him for missing the Billabong Pro in Tahiti and the Rip Curl Pro in Portugal, and had he missed the Rip Curl Search in San Francisco he could have faced a much more serious suspension situation.
Officially off the ASP World Tour at the conclusion of the '11 season, on Dec. 20, Reynolds posted a "declaration of independence" on his blog MarineLayerProduction.com.
"surfing isn't just about joy," he wrote. "it's also a sport. an industry. and we must not mix business with pleasure. by accepting endorsements i assume a certain responsibility. some think that responsibility is to compete. to put on a jersey and crush my opponent. despite a flimsy one dimensional criteria and an inconsistent playing field that causes the end result to rarely come down to performance alone."
In the Jan. 31 press statement announcing Reynolds return to competition -- hardly more than two months after forsaking it -- he says, "I rate it highly."
So politically correct.
It'll be great to see Reynolds in action, judging by the video clips he's been posting recently his surfing's as beautifully wreckless as ever. Hopefully he can recapture some of that competitive mojo from 2010. Surf fans around the world would love nothing more than to see his stick-it-to-the-man brand of surfing, well, stick it to the man. But maybe it's too soon since the "declaration." Maybe now it just looks like he's talking out of both sides of his mouth. But contractual obligations are a bear, and when you're called "obviously one of the greatest surfers in the world" by obviously the greatest surfer in the world, it's fair to expect some scrutiny.
With the addition of Reynolds the first event of the 2012 season is stacked with talent. Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina are back for their sophomore year. Both have been undergoing intense training session recently in preparation and look to pick up right where they left off at the end of last year. Kolohe Andino makes his much-hyped rookie appearance. Slater's back, as are former Quik Pro winners and local icons Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson. Add guys like Jordy Smith, Josh Kerr and Owen Wright to the mix and, surf providing, it's going to be an absolute shoot-out.