It's been a landmark year for surfing. From some of the closest World Title races in modern history to truly epic breakthroughs in the big-wave realm, 2017 has delivered on every level. And just when we thought we'd seen it all, the Future Classic at Kelly Slater's surf ranch redefined what was possible in our sport. A lot's been done and lot's been said. Here we take a look at the year as spoken by some of surfing's key players.
"It's like squirting honey in your eyes."
-- WSL commentator Ronnie Blakey describing John John Florence's style on the Gold Coast.
"You know, I was talking with his father earlier and he was telling me how he wasn't so sure if Owen would ever be back on Tour. Then to be able to come back and surf like this? He's surfing like the Owen right where he left off. He just picked right back up, you know? It's amazing."
-Kelly Slater's take on Owen Wright's comeback at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.
"His surfing at Main Break was pure artistry. The twisting and torquing, the snapping and carving, it was simply beyond anything else we've seen, not just from Florence, but from anyone, ever."
--A WSL report on JJF's victory in Western Australia reaches for the superlatives.
"I'm a passionate guy and surfing is my life. After getting an interference in the third round in Saquarema, I was very upset and my actions after the heat were unacceptable. After cooling down, I realized that I was not myself. I'm very sorry for my behavior. I want to apologize to the fans, my sponsors, the media and WSL."
--Filipe Toledo recalibrates after his Rio outburst
"It's been 10 years of hammering away and trying my very best and so I'm over the moon to win at Bells. I just didn't take things too seriously, as you can probably tell from my claims in the Final."
--Jordy Smith after claiming his first Bells trophy.
"I'm super happy to be here, it's pumping, barrels, and sunny. It's a perfect day. I would have liked to bring a win back to Tavarua, but at the end of the day I had fun."
--Michel Bourez adds some perspective after a loss in Fiji.
"Now I can think about the Title."
--Gabriel Medina after back-to-back wins in Europe.
"I was happy before I won, and I'm just as happy now."
--Tyler Wright, in the channel, moments after claiming her second World Title
"By the mid-'80s we were making ridiculous amounts of money and dreaming up new ways to spend it. I remember Aaron Chang came and pitched us on these Vanity Fair-style advertorial spreads to attract new brands. It involved model searches and the whole thing. Pretty soon we were dragging little Christian Fletcher out into the middle of the desert with Buzzy Kerbox, David Lee Roth, and a bunch of bikini models...We had camels and everything."
--Bill Sharp recalls Surfing Magazine's heyday.
"‘Hey Sage, wanna do one victory jump for me?' She replied, ‘You want me to jump Sherm?!' Immediately she flew into this beautiful, gymnastic-style jump. Ethan was there ready with the remote flash. One shot. One classic, timeless portrait. One of my favorite contest shots ever."
--WSL photographer Steve Sherman on one of his year's, and career's, best images.
"It's been the funnest trip I've ever been on, but with underlying education and learning. We have a greater understanding of what is being done to conserve this area and the work being done day in day out by people to preserve so many of nature precious gifts."
--Tyler Wright opens up on a Wild Ark trip in South Africa.
"When else in our history have we taken the best surfers in the world to compete, and not told anyone about it?"
--Kelly Slater on his revolutionary Future Classic.
There were things you'd love to see in your lifetime. I never got to see the Beatles play, I never got to see Led Zeppelin play, but I got to surf Kelly's wave pool and I'm totally stoked."
--Mark Richards beaming after surfing the Ranch.
"If I surf I don't think. If I surf the sadness escapes me for a while."
--Bianca Buitendag on how surfing helped her deal with the loss of her father.
"As one of nine children, he was barefoot and homeless at 10; a landlocked vagabond at 12; a couch surfer at 14. And that's just the beginning of the saga that shaped surfing's newest star."
--This intro only partially covers the territory in the great profile on Sebastian Zietz.
"I wanted him to be different. I wanted him to set himself apart as a surf competitor."
--Zeke Lau's father Leonard Lau on the shaping of Ezekiel.
"You could run into Paige working at the local Fish Market and never know that she is one of the most bad ass women in the world right now."
--Kai Lenny in the Paige Alms profile which shows how she works as ding repairer and in the markets to maintain her big wave passion.