It’s the very reason the ASP World Tour field was cut down from 45 to 32 – so supreme showmen, such as American Dane Reynolds and Australian Taj Burrow, could land each other in head-to-head competition a lot more often.
This is the elite calibre of athlete you want competing on the ‘Dream Tour’ – the finest world stage of surfing. They’re whom the fans want to see, they’re the guys who sell the product, and, like Kelly Slater, they form an exclusive field known as ‘the pro’s pros’ – meaning, even the remaining Top 32 - their fellow competitors, get a kick out watching them surf.
Since his inception onto the ASP world stage in 1999, Burrow, seven years Reynolds’ senior, has been a tireless campaigner for entertaining and progressive surfing within the competitive arena. A student and product of Taylor’s Steele’s Momentum movement, Burrow emerged as a breath of fresh air with the fast and flashy brand of surfing he brought to ASP heats.
Burrow’s fin-busting, aerial-based competitive repertoire has been decade-long groundwork for the likes of Dane Reynolds to succeed within today’s ASP format – which now celebrates this tact like never before. Many of the sport's best young high-performance surfers, such as 22-year-old world No. 2, Jordy Smith, will list Burrow as one of their key influences.
At 32, Burrow's aerial exploits may have slowed down slightly, however, at this point in time, there's no question he's currently one of the most technically brilliant surfers on the planet. You would have a hard time trying to find any weaknesses in his game.
Images: ASP/Cestari (left), Michael Lallande/Hurley Pro (right)
In the case of Reynolds, he is arguably the most explosive surfer in the world today. Blessed with instinctive unpredictability, no text-book can map out his unique approach to wave-riding.
With age on his side, most will agree Reynolds has considerably more hops than Burrow these days. Further, it’s fair to say that Reynolds’ similarly styled game, in certain areas, takes things to another level again.
That said, unlike Burrow, Reynolds has a well-documented laid-back approach to competitive surfing; his refusal to adopt a 10-turns-to-the-beach method means that, despite his immense talent, he may never win a world title. Not that Burrow has either. Former World Champion and part-time ASP commentator, Barton Lynch told mesurf recently: “If Dane Reynolds knew how to compete, he wouldn’t be beaten.”
Burrow is the more consistent and polished of the two, while Reynolds has the untamed progressive abilities of a reckless genius.
But, who’s the better surfer?
The pair has come up against each-other five times during the course of the current ASP season. With the exception of their initial encounter back at Jeffreys Bay in July - where Reynolds lost miserably trying unsuccessfully to land a 360 Alley Oop for much of the clash, every battle has been nothing short of scintillating - a fast-paced exposé of showtime surfing.
Interestingly, these remaining four run-ins occurred within just two ASP events – The Hurley Pro Trestles and the recent Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico. Reynolds and Burrow would claim two victories apiece. Both stops, one would win in Round 4; while the other would get revenge in the rematch occurring later in each event’s Quarter Final.
All four of these clashes produced some of the best surfing seen during this year’s ASP tour. (watch below)
So again, I put it to you - who’s better?
Taj Burrow? Or Dane Reynolds?
Regardless of who’s corner you’re in, whenever this pair meets in ASP competition, we’re bound to see a resounding victory for the sport of surfing.