Stab Magazine | The Best Big Wave Session of 2014, according to Shane Dorian
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The Best Big Wave Session of 2014, according to Shane Dorian

Story by Lucas Townsend It’s the time of year to get retrospective on the past 12 months. The bests, the mosts, the biggests, the longests. And while it’s been a year with plenty of ‘good’ surf, ‘great’ sessions have been marginal. There hasn’t been a swell this year Shane Dorian regrets not being at. And […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Story by Lucas Townsend

It’s the time of year to get retrospective on the past 12 months. The bests, the mosts, the biggests, the longests. And while it’s been a year with plenty of ‘good’ surf, ‘great’ sessions have been marginal. There hasn’t been a swell this year Shane Dorian regrets not being at. And he’s called the early-season Jaws session in November as best session of the year (so far). Perusing Off the Wall from the Reef House, Dorian talks with Stab about the two-day hit out and where it fits into surfing’s finest career renaissance (his).

Stab: Was there any swells this year you wish you’d been at?
Shane Dorian: Not really, the year has been patchy. Theres been plenty of good surf, but nothing epic. There hasn’t been any really epic days at Off The Wall, or Pipeline, overall the days have been pretty average.

Best session, then? Jaws last month was by far the best session this year. It was surprising, I didn’t think it was going to be that big, I was underestimating it. I was planning on staying home because the first day it was supposed to come up through the day, peak at night. I bought the ticket last second, popped over there about lunchtime and it was pumping. Twiggy had already got a 25 footer, it was already on. It was meant to be 12 to 15 foot and next thing you know it was 15 to 20 with bigger sets.

Did you have a standout wave? Yep, the best wave I got was the second day. I didn’t think it was going to be big that day either, but it was huge again. I got this wave, a big glassy one. There was a wave before that cleared everything out and it gave me this buttery roll in and the whole thing walled up all the way to that west bowl and I knew as soon as I took off I was going to get barrelled. It’s hard to find one out there that gets really hollow like that and make it out. There’s so much shit going on in the barrel there, it gets really rowdy in the tube. But that wave had the perfect lip to it and I got super lucky.

You’ve surfed Jaws for a long time, have you always looked for that same line? Yeah, it’s one of those things where you can be out there for one, two or three hours and the waves can be good but you don’t see the one. Then, all of a sudden after going over a hundred waves, you pull over one more and there it is, this is the one. As soon as you see it, you know, and that’s what happened that day. As soon as I saw it I turned around, put my head down and started paddling.

How long had you waited? I’d been sitting there about an hour and was starting to get cold. I had a short John on – I usually wear a wetsuit jacket. But I got rattled that morning, really pounded, so I was trying to shake that off and that wave came in and it was just a buttery, perfect wave.

What’s the difference in timing between paddling into a wave at Jaws, and a wave at Pipe? You really have to be completely committed. It’s such a big face on the wave, it’s not like Pipe where you can pop up to your feet and just knife into it. You have to have that momentum going down the face. You are literally on the wave paddling while you’re already taking the drop. Otherwise you see those guys pop in the air and get stuck in the lip. In order not to do that you’re literally paddling down the face before you get up.

Where’s the worst place to get caught? Halfway through the wave is the worst, the barrel section on the side. If there’s one behind it, and it apexes on your head, it’s bad. There’s nothing you can do, you’ve just got to sit there and wear it. But what made that session so rad was the crew. It wasn’t crowded, just a handful of guys and Twiggy, Ian Walsh both surfed really well. And, Kai Lenny, who I think is one of the best guys out there. He’s really young, and he rode both a stand-up and normal board. He was doing these rad turns, getting really barrelled. I was telling him, if he could ride that board paddling, that’s the board he should ride. Once he was done on the stand-up he went and grabbed a normal board and was one of the best guys out. I’ve been surfing big waves for so long, that I’m sort of set in my ways. But it’s so fun surfing with those guys because they’re young and they approach everything differently. For me, it’s refreshing.

What are they doing differently? It’s the lines they draw, especially Kai. His background is super eclectic. He’s a windsurfer, a kite surfer, tow surfer, a SUP’er. He’s super diverse so the lines he draws are really different. Albee is one of the world’s best aerialists, but then he’s one of the best guys out at Jaws. He has great technique and he surfs the wave like it’s Backdoor, he’s a full tube hound. I’m trying to get better all the time and they open my mind to different approaches.

You leave a young family to chase these waves. Does that worry you? Yeah, it does a lot. It’s definitely on my mind, you can’t get away from it. My kids are everything to me. When I look at what’s important in my life, surfing big waves I love, but coming home safely to my groms is number one – no matter what. At the same time, big waves are part of who I am. And my kids know that that’s what their Dad does.

Is there ever times you don’t want to go surf a swell? Sometimes I froth out and I really want to go and chase a big swell and other times I feel like I have to go. Last year I was filming for this television show and there were a couple of swells that I had to go for the show. It’s those times, where I don’t feel conviction to go and it’s like my job to go, I don’t like that feeling. Surfing big waves for the wrong reason is how people really get in trouble and I don’t ever want to come from that perspective.

And the Shane Dorian career renaissance is one of the greats. Yeah, it’s crazy. I was talking to somebody this week, and he was tripping because he’s known me forever. I look back at Shaun (Tomson) or MR or Cheyne Horan or Kelly or Parko, you’re always going to remember them for something because of what they did. When I was 30, I thought f’sure the stuff that I would be remembered for was in the past. But really, that’s when any kind of legacy started for me. And, I’m having more fun than ever.

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