Words by Leo Maxam / Balibelly.tv
Photos by Indra Prasta
When you’re a surfboard shaped for Dane Reynolds, the pressure starts from the moment you leave the sanding rack. The stakes are high: cover shots, movie parts, contest results (prediction: those one-foot closeouts at the Huntington Pier during the U.S. Open will light Dane’s fire for the colored jersey). If you don’t perform, there are a hundred more boards being shaped for Dane this year who are ready to replace you – natural selection of foam and fiberglass.
Fresh from the Channel Islands factory in Santa Barbara, stuffed into a coffin boardbag and chucked into the belly of a plane, these six newborns (see photo) were assigned to help Dane further his surfing evolution while in Indo. Dane decided not to do the Billabong Pro Tahiti (he opted out well before the 20-foot swell of death showed up on the charts, so save the Neco Padaratz comparisons), and instead shoot with Kai Neville in some of the most puntable waves in the archipelago. So rather than balls-to-the-walls pintails, these foam blanks were sculpted into high-performance shortboards. Which one will grace the glossy cover of the next international surf mag and which will be rejected and sent back to the factory where they came from? This was the fate of Dane’s Indo quiver:
5’6″ x 19 ¾” x 2 5/16″ Pod winged swallow tail, with 4 belly channels
Most of us wouldn’t consider paddling out on a fat 5’6” with minimal rocker on the biggest swell of the year, at one of Indo’s most dangerously shallow reefbreaks. Dane did, and quickly decided it wasn’t the ticket. He fought his way to the bottom on a couple of windy set waves, but had a hard time slotting the board deep in the barrel, saying it felt too stiff. “I would get to the bottom and it would just want to go straight,” Dane said. “I can never seem to figure out quads.” After about 20 minutes Dane paddled back to the boat to swap for his Proton. He considered changing to some smaller fins on the Pod, but the 5’6” never did get another shot in Indo. It spent the rest of the trip sitting in solitary confinement outside the room.
6’0 x 19 x 2 3/8 Proton squash tail
After Dane swapped the 5’6” for the Proton, he managed to pull into a handful of long, fanging backhand tubes. The Proton looked like a keeper, but when Dane returned to the beach he discovered that it had mysteriously buckled, even though he never took any particularly bad wipeouts and never touched the reef. “I have no idea how that happened,” Dane said, inspecting the crease across the top deck. Dane dropped the board off with the local ding repair guy (i.e. local fisherman with some boat resin and fiberglass) to have it repaired, but wound up having to leave it with the locals when the decision was made to zip off to Japan at the drop of a hat. Hopefully some local grom is playing in the shorebreak with it right now, and next time Dane returns to this part of Indo the kid is pulling into set waves at the hollow left.
5’7 x 19 ½ x 2 5/16 Dumpster Diver
This board was ridiculously light. Dane grabbed it off the rack in California before he left. The Dumpster Diver never even saw wax or fins on this trip. The wind never stopped blowing and nearly every session featured wave faces that were bumpier than the washboard roads out to the beach. Feather-light boards don’t usually handle large and choppy surf well. Look for the Dumpster Diver to have its day back in the glassy summertime surf of Southern California.
6’1 x 18 7/8 x 2 3/8 Fred Rubble squash
In case you haven’t noticed, Dane isn’t the type of pro who brings a coffin full of identical 6’0” shortboards with him wherever he goes. He likes to experiment with his equipment and try new things. Hence this oversized Fred Rubble board. The dimensions were oddly tweaked from his usual Fred Rubble (5’11″ x 19 x 2 5/16). The board didn’t get a whole lot of action in the water, but it did get a cool Posca pen makeover on land, including Dane’s patented hand-scrawled curl-over-snow-capped-peak near the nose. Surf company execs love a sloppily-drawn corporate surf logo on a team rider’s board. It says, “I’m anti-marketing,” which is great marketing.
6’0 x 18 ¾ x 2 5/16 Rookie squash and
6’0 x 19 x 2 3/8 Rookie squash
According to the guys at Channel Islands, “over the course of 2010 and 2011 the Rookie has become a common board on the CT tour.” Judging by the massive alley-oops, tweaked air reverses and big spins Dane was busting on these boards, the Rookies also appear to work well for a guy on vacation from the World Tour. “He’s loving that Rookie,” said Dane’s filmer, Mini, after one particularly productive afternoon of filming. “We’re cleaning up on clips.” It did seem as though Dane was capable of doing pretty much anything he wanted on the Rookies, and – in the predominantly punchy rights on this trip, at least – they definitely emerged as the alpha-boards of the pack.
For the survivors who made the cut (weren’t cast aside or left in a fisherman’s workshop), it was off to Japan to catch the typhoon swell of the year at a rivermouth where Dane claims he once caught the best wave of his life. That’s a tough act for a board to follow. But if you’re one of Dane’s sleds, it’s survival of the fittest.