Tom Curren and Kelly Slater are the two best surfers in the history of surfing. They changed both free-surfing and competitive surfing. Their highly technical, highly stylized brands of wave riding became the paradigm for both groms and ASP judging during their respective eras. Their fame didn’t need the ASP. Magazines and films were enough in those days. Curren and Slater have made the ASP what it is today. Luckily for that organization, both Curren and Slater were as competitive as they were gifted. Both surfers went on to break all sorts of ASP records in regards to championships and number of heats won. Professional success takes genius and competitiveness, but it also requires luck. Curren and Slater had /have an uncanny way of getting lucky in heats. Their heats always seem to have the best waves in a given contest. A rogue wave always seemed/seems to come in the dying seconds when they need it. The ocean always seemed to be in their favor. You’d swear it seemed to be playing favorites with them.
Dane Reynolds is currently the most talented surfer in the world. He is an amalgamation of Curren and Slater. His competitive ineptitudes have been widely publicized and discussed. My opinion is that Dane’s competitive struggles aren’t due to his lack of competitive edge. Dane is more competitive than people think. His is of the silent variety, as was Curren’s. Dane’s contest failings are result of luck. Waves never seem to come to him in heats. So many of his heats leave him needing an easily obtainable score but with the ocean going flat. Sure he’s had some brain farts in heats, but his skill is so great that he can easily overcome it with a single move on a closeout. The ocean never delivers for Dane. His heats are always wave-starved. It’s painful to watch. His latest heat against Kelly in this year’s US Open was yet another example of the ocean not giving him what he needs. What promised to be the heat of the century ended up depressingly anti-climactic. The heat demonstrated Dane’s habit of over-hyping for big heats, of getting frustrated too quickly, which could be interpreted as trying too hard, or being too competitive. He did have his opportunities but seemed to be pressing too hard on a few maneuvers. If he had landed that one backside air-reverse, the hear would have been over. Fortunately for Dane, his reign as surfing’s new god doesn’t need the ASP. His blog is more than enough.