Today, the first real swell of this year’s Hawaiian winter season hit. And Jaws was on. It wasn’t as big as it can get, but it was definitely as perfect as it gets. Over the last coupla seasons, a certain team of men have fallen outta love with tow ropes. So, when phones, swell charts and social media lit up last night, paddle step-ups were waxed. One of the men who left his tow-board sheathed was Shane Dorian. You might know him as one of the Momentum generation’s biggest stars. Or, more likely as waterman of the year. Or, perhaps even as the star of that gritty new hunting knife ad. Either way, Shane’s performance had Albee Layer saying via social media: “Wave of the year @shanedorian I just got speechless”, as well as his pal, Matt Meola, who commented: “Biggest wave ever paddled @shanedorian.” Stab asked Shane to take us back into the zone with him…
Stab: Opening day!
Shane Dorian: That was the first real swell of the year, for Hawaii! I had some new boards and I’d missed that swell in Fiji, so I really wanted to try and make myself go the next swell that looked like it had a lot of potential. And, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. It was so good, such a good afternoon. It was really big for paddling. Big and scary, f’sure. It was beautiful, for most of the session it was glassy like Indo. Just perfect, really. There was a huge crew, a lot of great guys out there. Almost too many to name. There was Ian Walsh, Mark Healey, Billy Kemper, Kai Barger, Tom Dosland, Matt Meola, Albee Layer, Nathan Fletcher, Makua Rothman… pretty much everyone you can name, all the best paddle guys were out there charging.
If this were 2010, would this session have been all tow? No doubt about it. In years past, there would’ve been 30 jetskis out there. Especially cause it was perfect, perfect jaws.
So, there’s a new standard in big wave surfing? I think once you catch a really big wave on your own paddle power, you’re hooked. It’s hard to go back to the jetski if you don’t really need one. There’s certain waves that still require a jetski obviously, but once you paddle into a really big wave, the feeling you get is like nothing you could ever get with a jetski.
What were you riding? I rode a John Carper 10’6″ quad. He made me a coupla really good new boards that I wanted to ride and that was my first time on that board. It felt really great. For a coupla years, paddling Jaws, I’ve been riding the same kinda 10’6″ quad. I really like the quad setup. I don’t think they’re for every break, but they go a lot faster than thrusters, for me. They don’t track very much at all and they just go really fast.
“I think once you catch a really big wave on your own paddle power, you’re hooked. It’s hard to go back to the jetski if you don’t really need one.” – Shane Dorian
What was the highlight? My last wave was definitely the best wave I’ve ever caught. It had it all, it was big, scary, gnarly, it had a spooky drop with a little Shipsterns bump in it at the bottom. I almost ate shit. There was a whole lot going on, it was just so exciting and really fun. I was screaming my head off. It wasn’t the deepest barrel but it was pretty good. There were just so many good waves ridden. Makua Rothman got a really, really big paddle wave, and so did Greg Long. Pretty much everyone that was out there got bombs.
Having that many pals in the lineup’s gotta lighten the vibe? It’s sick when everyone knows what they’re doing, too, y’know? When there’s a lot of good surfers out there and you’re watching guys kill it. When you’re watching guys put their heads down, take the really big ones and make it, and surf really well, it gets you fired up. There was definitely a lot of that going one. Guys like Matt Meola and Albee, Makua, Ian, Healey, it was the cream of the crop out there.
What do you think about when your head’s down, digging in? It happens so quickly. I try to make the best decisions. For me, my number one goal is to not let my ego take over. I don’t wanna choose to go on a wave for anything except wanting a good ride. I don’t want it to come from a place like, I need to do this ’cause it’s my job or some bullshit. I want it to be ’cause I want to do it. So I just try to listen to that when I’m out there. If the wave feels like I’m ‘sposed to ride it, I go.
Is that an easy trap to fall into? Just going because there’s a million people in the channel and you wanna be the hero? I think it’s human nature. Especially with men, y’know, we have our egos. Its human nature to get all psyched and wanna get a big one, especially when you see other guys getting good ones. Everybody has their day, their opportunity.
What do you eat the night before and morning of a huge swell? We went to Ian Walsh’s mum’s house last night, she made us an amazing baked chicken with mixed greens, it was an incredible home-cooked meal. Then today, we knew the swell wasn’t really gonna get going until after lunch, so we basically just hung around the house and, I was nervous, so I was eating all day. I don’t like being hungry and I knew we were gonna surf til dark, so I pretty much stuffed myself silly with cereal and… just food, I ate so much.
What was going on up in the rafters? We parked right in front of Jaws, on the cliff, and that’s where everyone was gathered, hanging out drinking beers and smoking joints, cruising and watching the show. It was a really cool vibe. After I came in from the session, someone handed my a cold Stella Artois and I don’t think beer ever tasted that good. – Elliot Struck