When the men paddle out for the Fiji Pro, Dane Reynolds (USA) -- the Ventura, Calif., native who's known for his unparalleled innovation -- will be among them. Few figures in modern surf history have been more popular, and subsequently more polarizing, than the 29-year-old. The WSL Commissioner's Office has awarded him a wildcard slot in the upcoming event, the fifth stop on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour.
"I'm surprised and excited to get a wildcard into the Fiji Pro," Reynolds said. "After being home for a month and a half raising my kid, it's going to be like a vacation!"
He added, "Not really though, because Cloudbreak is a challenging, intimidating and complicated lineup where you have to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself on the line...which you don't usually do on vacation. I'm pumped and honored to join the world's best and try to conquer it."
A phenomenon in the early 2000s, Reynolds rose to international stardom following a major endorsement deal with Quiksilver and starring roles in their three-part Young Guns series, as well as his own biopic, Dane Reynolds: First Chapter. When Reynolds qualified for the elite Championship Tour in 2008, the natural-footer already possessed a significant amount of CT experience through wildcard appearances on the Gold Coast, at Lower Trestles, France, Fiji and more.
Renowned at the time for a somewhat minimalist approach to training, Reynolds' talent was undeniable. He had powerful rail game as well as aerial prowess unmatched by his peers on Tour at the time. After finishing fourth in the world in 2010, Reynolds appeared in only three of 11 events the following season, dropping off the Tour and out of full-time competition.
But Reynolds has been anything but idle. Since stepping away from the CT, he has signed historic endorsement deals, released viral clips, created groundbreaking board designs with Channel Islands, launched and shuttered clothing lines, made wildcard appearances, and is now a father.
And yet, the soft-spoken surfer has his critics. After existing as such a juggernaut talent for several years, some have pointed to his lack of CT wins, as well as WSL Titles, as wasted potential. But long before the Brazilian Storm, it was Reynolds who was pushing boundaries, changing the landscape of surfing's possibilities with a brilliance that remains undeniable.
In Round 1 at the Fiji Pro, Reynolds will take on three-time World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) and 2015 rookie Wiggolly Dantas (BRA). Watch him LIVE here at 7:30 a.m. daily starting June 7 local time (June 6, 12:30 p.m./PDT) and on the WSL App.
Reynolds Competitive History on the WSL Championship Tour: 2014: Wildcard Season - 25th on Gold Coast, 25th in France 2013: Wildcard Season - 13th on Gold Coast, 25th at Lower Trestles, 25th in France, 37th at Pipeline 2012: Wildcard Season - 25th on Gold Coast, 2nd in France, 9th at Pipeline 2011: 38th (competed in three of 11 events) 2010: 4th 2009: 10th 2008: 22nd 2007: Wildcard Season - 9th at Trestles 2006: Wildcard Season - 33rd at Trestles 2005: Wildcard Season - 33rd on Gold Coast, 17th in Japan, 17th at Trestles, 9th in France 2004: Wildcard Season - 33rd on Gold Coast, 33rd in Fiji, 17th at Trestles