Two lousy days in LA with Dane Reynolds and Taj Burrow
This past American summer, Taj Burrow, 34 years old, and Dane Reynolds, seven years and three months younger, co-joined for two days of surfing. From Ventura, just north of Los Angeles, to San Clemente, just south, the pair, along with photographer Morgan Maassen and Dane’s filmer Jason “Mini” Blanchard, surfed lousy waves, but shared an […]
This past American summer, Taj Burrow, 34 years old, and Dane Reynolds, seven years and three months younger, co-joined for two days of surfing.
From Ventura, just north of Los Angeles, to San Clemente, just south, the pair, along with photographer Morgan Maassen and Dane’s filmer Jason “Mini” Blanchard, surfed lousy waves, but shared an anything but lousy experience.
Photos by Morgan Maassen, words by Derek Rielly…
Stab: First, how did this coupling come to pass?
Morgan Maassen: Dane lives in Ventura and I in Santa Barbara (real close). And, Taj came to California early to relax before the chaos of the US open and we decided to link up for some surfing. Taj was looking to escape the mayhem of Orange County and Dane wanted nothing of it so Taj decided to drive up to the 805 and hang out with us.
How many days did you men spent together and where was the time spent? We spent two days together, the first in Ventura, which the swell did not deliver for. We surfed a fun jetty but it was cold, foggy, and crowded because not many other places were working in the conditions. We had a fun couple of surfs though and Dane and Taj were flaring considering the lacklustre surf. We had a good lunch at a local health food restaurant and then decided, ironically, that we would all drive down to Lowers (in San Clemente) to slog out the next day for some “real surf ”. When we drove down the next day, we had convened at the injured Kolohe Andino’s house. Kolohe and his pops Dino would cordially give us rides down to the trail entrance, saving us a long walk and parking hassles. After, we went back, had lunch, and went back down for an evening session, before we departed ways: Taj, back to Newport to stay with his girlfriend Oleema, and Dane/Mini/myself back to Ventura and Santa Barbara, as the swell had finished and we were exasperated by the crowds.
What was the best piece of surfing you saw? As Lowers had a weird, abnormally soft face to it because of what I’d presume to be bad swell and sand, the guys’ session out there wasn’t as stellar was one would think. Taj still ripped, though, and his crowd navigation was so on-point that when three randomly oversized sets pulsed through, he caught the biggest and best wave out of each and tore them to shreds with such a diverse bag of tricks it looked like he was bridging the gap between Kolohe and Parko. Phew! That took my breath away, actually. He was so on-point and hyper-active on his feet. It was truly amazing surfing. Dane had a way better session at the wedge we surfed the day before in Ventura. It was, literally, a wedge that would form out of nowhere against a menacing jetty and peel as a zippy a-frame for a brief moment before exploding into dry sand. Dane was all over the place, pulling into frothy closeout barrels and punting huge airs, as well as throwing massive finners on the skatepark-perfect coping the wedge provided. This was his home and it is always rad to see Dane surf so well at the waves he always playfully detests, but in reality birthed the greatest surfer of our generation.
Did Taj appear to step it up because he was surfing with this younger superstar? Yes and no. Yes, because, in my humble opinion, Taj’s surfing seems to suffer (or gain?) from the Benjamin Button effect as the years go by. It constantly looks younger and more agile, while shedding no wisdom. I think it’s an apt statement that Kai Neville put Taj in Dear Suburbia, andI think he is a totally valid peer to the Kolohe’s and Jack Freestones. And, no, because his ability and style is timeless, amazing, and on a league of its own. And, has been since Montaj blew my mind over a decade ago.
Did Dane or Taj have any peculiar habits? Habits? No, not that I can think of. Both were excited to surf and I think a bit tired from the surf scene and media. So, if anything, they were relieved to have some space (in Ventura) and be doing a mellow surf mission. It was more like two friends surfing together than a photo shoot or movie-trip or tour that they do throughout the year.
Discuss Dane’s boards. Dane was sampling several different boards from Channel Islands and one that he shaped himself. If I remember correctly, the self-shaped board was a dud but that led to his next shaped board being brilliant. The CI boards he had were a sample of DFR’s, a Sperm, and I think a new model they were developing. At the jetty we surfed in Ventura, where he had the best session, he was riding a DFR.
Describe Dane and Taj’s relationship. Well, Taj might be from a slightly older generation than Dane’s, but you wouldn’t notice it. They both respect each other immensely, but get along like good friends from trips they’ve done and contests they’ve surfed in together. Taj has been on the tour for a long time and obviously been a pro surfer for many years, so he is almost an elder to Dane. They have a very relaxed, non-competitive relationship filled with nothing but kindness.
Did either surfer say anything profound or quotable during this time? I think both guys were just… chilling. So calm. Almost on vacation from all their vacations. They chit-chatted about everything from the weather to board design, diet to cars. I think their little get-together was profound in that sense. Two of the world’s best surfers, surfing together in average surf with no pressure, media, stress, competition. Like teen buddies, surf tripping.
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