HE'S called the greatest free surfer on the planet and the most reluctant competitor to be on the ASP World Tour.
That's 28-year-old Dane Reynolds of Ventura, California, who battled a nagging injury for most of 2011, competing only twice in the year.
Not surprisingly, after constant rumours that he would walk away from the tour, he did just that without even trying to ask for an injured wildcard.
It's no surprise that his sponsor, Quiksilver, has granted Dane a wildcard entry into the main event at Snapper Rocks for the ASP Tour Opener from February 25 to March 7 and, thankfully, Dane has accepted!
While he is not an early riser and hates going to the gym, Reynolds' natural ability is second to none and spectators will be stoked that this super-talented surfer will be back in action amongst the top 34 in the Quiksilver Pro.
Reynolds is one of two wildcards with the second going to the winner of The Moskova Trials to be held on Friday, February 24.
Other surfers confirmed for the trials include ASP World Junior title runner-up Garrett Parkes, Japan's Mar Ohno, Brazil's Jesse Mendes and local Gold Coast charger Brent "Brenno" Dorrington.
DANE scattered the cat amongst the pigeons at Snapper in 2010 when he outsurfed former champion Joel Parkinson.
The waves were pumping behind the Rock and Parko was poised to go all the way but came up against a rampaging Dane Reynolds.
It's no wonder that Dane is considered just as inspirational and as innovative as Kelly Slater with most young groms.
Hopefully we will see a match-up against the master and the protégé; both ride Al Merrick boards and are have the same sponsor.
"I hope I draw Kelly. It would be fun," Reynolds said. "I've surfed this event as many times as a wildcard as I have a WCT surfer and the wave can be super fun. It can be barrels or peelers so it's good for everything. I rate it highly."
Slater is a great admirer of Reynolds' approach to surfing, previously saying he could be one of the great surfers of all time.
"If you watch a guy like Dane Reynolds, who obviously is one of the greatest surfers in the world, he could end up being one of the greats of all time and technically, right now, he is as good as anyone has ever been," Slater said.
"He doesn't hold back in contests."
Although missing the opportunity to regularly compete against them during the year, Reynolds was also excited by the prospect of a highly-talented younger brigade - including Owen Wright, Julian Wilson, Gabriel Medina, John John Florence and Kolohe Andino - poised to push the established surfers on the World Tour in 2012.
"Hopefully all of them will step up this year," Reynolds said. "I really dig their surfing.
NEXT Wednesday the 4-star Breaka Pro worth $95,000.00 kicks off at Burleigh Heads with finals on Sunday.
Former World Champ Mark "Occy" Occhilupo has been granted a wildcard as has Burleigh duo Thomas Woods and Kyle Robinson.
Dual World Champion Mick Fanning has entered to prepare himself for another big year on the ASP World Tour.
Other WCT surfers to compete include Bede Durbidge, Josh Kerr and Julian Wilson.
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