Stab Magazine | Dusty Payne Set To Make His Competitive Return

Dusty Payne Set To Make His Competitive Return

10 months after his near-death wipeout at Pipe, the 29-year old Hawaiian returns to competitive surfing. 

news // Oct 24, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

In January this year, Hawaii nearly lost one of the modern era’s best surfers, Dusty Payne. During a solid day at Backdoor, Dusty swung, dropped, and unexpectedly caught his outside rail and “got sucked over the falls and landed smack on his face” as Tom Carey told Stab. 

Dusty went face first into the reef and was knocked out immediately. He was held under for the next three waves and was then dragged to the surface unconscious by Uluboi and Mikey O’Shaughnessy. The lifeguards pumped water out of his lungs on the beach, he came to, and was appropriately taken to hospital.

For a moment the surfing world stopped in it’s tracks, contemplating whether we’d just lost another surfer at Pipe. Thankfully, Dusty didn’t become another grievous statistic. He did however break both his skull and jaw.

The recovery has been harrowing to say the least, but this week, Dusty will make his return to competitive surfing at the HIC Pro at Sunset. He’s been back in the water since May (a miraculously quick return), and back on a shorty since June, but this weekend will be the first time his surfing’s subjectively assessed by a five-person panel. 

“I’m excited about coming back to Oahu to compete in the HIC Pro, that was the first ASP/WSL event I did when I was just starting up as a young kid so it feels right,” Dusty told the WSL. “It’s going to be a pretty emotional trip over I’d imagine, but I’m so excited to compete and just get those butterflies of being in a competitive environment again. I’ve missed that feeling. I set a goal quietly to myself during my recovery and that was to be ready to compete or surf Pipe again during this winter season.

“My main focus for this winter season is just to enjoy every second of every day, I’m so fortunate and grateful to so many people to still be here and have this opportunity again,” Dusty continued. “Sure, deep down I’d love to win the events I’m in, but I’m still in somewhat of the earlier stages of my recovery and going through a process that not many people have gone through before.

“I’m still getting better and getting more confident with every surf, so that is exciting. My main focus would be just to keep learning how to improve myself so I can be able to do this for many more years to come. And of course, be as safe as possible.”

Hawaiian’s have won 33 out of 34 titles at the HIC Pro, and while Dusty’s happy to simply be back surfing – let alone wearing a jersey – we’re sure placing himself amongst the list of winning Hawaiian surfers isn’t far from his grasp. Or at the very least getting decent result which might be enough to squeeze him into the coveted Triple Crown a few weeks afterwards. 


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