Dane’s surfing is epic—it’s just so raw and original. He puts his board in places where you can see his body reacting to the wave. He responds to it; he’s not trying to force anything, he just makes things happen. The best surfers ever are guys who do that, they ride the wave the way it is supposed to be ridden. Guys like Occy and Curren did that, and I think Dane’s one of the few young surfers who can do it.
Dane is the youngest guy on this list, and it’s not based on hype. There’s real substance there. When you put a video out, like he did with First Chapter, and it sells out as many times as it did, it’s no fluke. He’s the real deal. Dane’s video sections have really set him apart from the rest of his generation. Magazines show a part of the wave, a part of the story, but to appreciate Dane’s ability, you have to see how he links turns together. You have to see his rawness. Every video section he does is always the best part—the part people want to see the most. You can’t fake video; it speaks for itself. The first boat trip I did with Dane in the Mentawais, he put together an entire video section in one day. The crazy thing was that it ended up being the best part of the video.
I think what he’s doing for surfing is great. Already, he’s opening up new avenues for surfers to go down. In that way he’s a revolutionary—he’s bringing an entirely new way of surfing to the table. Airs have been around for a long time, but Dane came along and started doing airs with flips and rotations. Dane took all the surfing from the ’90s and the millennium and evolved it into something else—the next level. He is the front-runner of his generation; he’s way ahead of the curve. Dane may be introverted, sure, but in many ways he’s like Tom Curren. He’s real, and people identify with that. Surfers like Dane don’t go unnoticed. — Andy Irons