Stab Magazine | Pro Surfers Hate Crowds Too!

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Pro Surfers Hate Crowds Too!

Stab, Dane Reynolds and Noa Deane consider the curious dynamic of a lineup.

news // Apr 12, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Shaper to the stars Matt Biolos has an interesting theory: That surfing is the only sport in the world in which you have to fight for participation. If you want to play golf, you pay course fees. If you want to play tennis, you hire a court. You want to kick a ball, you go to a park. However, if you want to surf, there’s no one out there who wants to give you a wave, because they’re out there fighting for themselves.

Real beginners don’t have to fight for waves because they’re looking for whitewater closeouts and there’s hundreds of kilometres of beaches that can provide such thrills. However, once you’ve learnt the basics, all aspire to a clean face that runs down a point. If you want to surf The Pass, Malibu, Crescent Head, you have to contend with a lot of surfers of a lot of different abilities. You might be a very advanced surfer, but you can still enjoy waves that are non-life-threatening, like Malibu. Similarly, you might have only just started riding open-faced waves, but you still have more than enough skill to handle yourself on a wave at Malibu from start to finish. Here’s the thing though; You’re not likely to get the chance. No one’s going to sacrifice one of their waves for you. And, as lovely a guy as Joel Tudor is, and no matter how barrelled he gets at Pipeline, he still wants to get the best waves at Malibu. It provides an aquatic buzz, not quite the same as waves 2000 miles across the Pacific, but satisfying in their own way.

02 CG

“Watching Dane do these turns on his backhand was something else,” says photographer Richard Freeman. “He’d dig his whole upper body into the wave, sometimes even his head, and use them to pivot off as he wrenched the turn.”

Photography

Chris Gurney

What other sport in the world allows you to participate alongside the best in the world? Can you run onto a court and play against LeBron? Can you bang a couple over the net to Djokovic? No. But, when it comes to surfing, you can paddle alongside (and get in the way of) the best surfers in the world. There’s nothing stopping you paddling out at Snapper and sitting behind the rock alongside three-time* world champ Mick Fanning.

(*Stab predicted a fourth title for Mick when this issue went out!)

Which segues neatly into a story about Stab’s last seven-night trip to the Mentawai Islands, with Dane Reynolds, Noa Deane and Kolohe Andino. During a session at Macaronis – with conditions around a six-out-of-10 by local standards (four-to-six foot, wind blowing from the back, cross-shore on the takeoff, a little cleaner by the end of the wave hence not making it an eight-plus kinda day.) When they lined up however, every 30 minutes or so, the waves were pretty nuts. I’ve surfed with a lot of good surfers over the years, some of surfing’s most alpha males. If we’d been surfing with Joel or Andy, each set would have been their right. And, while many would squabble about this (especially on the internet), I would probably agree that after their achievements and many years on surfing’s frontline, it would be fair. On our trip, however, Dane, Noz and Brother were far more respectful. They assumed their place in the lineup like any other surfer.

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Dane Reynolds has held the hearts of surfers from the ages of 14-20 for the last 10 years, and now, the gent saluting his idol is the one carrying the torch for the pimply generation. What the future holds for Noa Deane is at this stage unclear. If Dane Reynolds could assemble his dream surf team then Noa’d be front and centre, but is the tour in Noz’s future? “No chance!” says Lord Dane.

Photography

Chris Gurney

So, the lineup was set and everyone was waiting their turn. Wave of the hour showed up (wave of the day if you can’t resist hyperbole), and an intermediate surfer paddled, realised the wave was too steep, tried to jump off the back and was sucked over the falls. The wave hit the reef, and it was thick enough to throw perfectly despite the cross-shore wind, and spat down the line. It wasn’t a wave for a guy of his skill, and the fall was understandable. What happened next is where things got murky. He paddled back out as if it were the wave’s fault and nothing had happened, and assumed the priority position in the lineup once again. No words, no apologies, just jumping in at the start of the queue. 

Later on the boat Dane pondered the event. “If that were me I’d be so sheepish, I wouldn’t be able to face the lineup again,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t paddle back out and assume the next wave.”

Noa added his own personal frustrations of when he’s on photo trips and paddles into empty lineups, and moments later it gets crowded. “Can you imagine being at a skatepark when some of your favourite skaters show up?” He asks. “Rather than sit and watch, you’re not gonna be like, ‘I’m gonna go out there and hassle the fuck out of these guys.’”

It’s easy to feel sympathy for all parties. You empathise with the upper echelon pro, you can empathise with the everyday surfer just trying to get a wave. When does the thrill of being able to surf alongside the very best surfers in the world get overtaken by the fact that we have fight the very best surfers in the world just to take part?

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