Stab Magazine | The Pertinence of Dustin Payne

The Pertinence of Dustin Payne

Dusty Payne has the love of man-sized waves, respect for peers and tell-it-like-it-is attitude that’s deeply-embedded in all surfers from his homeland of Hawaii. But he’s also from the prog school, an aerial and tail-high maestro. Performance-wise, he’s had a great sophomore year on tour. Result-wise, not so great (a fifth and two 25ths). So if […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dusty Payne has the love of man-sized waves, respect for peers and tell-it-like-it-is attitude that’s deeply-embedded in all surfers from his homeland of Hawaii. But he’s also from the prog school, an aerial and tail-high maestro. Performance-wise, he’s had a great sophomore year on tour. Result-wise, not so great (a fifth and two 25ths). So if you’re standout performer in film of the year, how d’ya maintain competitive motivation? When Stab called Dusty, he’d just finished a game of golf at home in Hawaii, having returned yesterday from a stint in Mexico with Parker Coffin and Matty Wilko (the video of which y’see above).

Stab: Looks like it got pretty big towards the end of the Mexico trip? 
Dusty Payne: (With nonchalance) Yeah, there were some waves, it was fun. We weren’t towing, we were just doing step-offs from the ski. It was my first time doing it. I think it’s way better than towing-in. You can really pick the part of the wave you wanna be on. It’s pretty easy, too, you can just jump onto your stomach and then stand up. By the end of it I got pretty used to it and was more comfortable jumping straight onto my feet.

This year’s a bit of a funny one for you, you’ve surfed amazingly but had some tough results. What d’you think’s going on?
 I dunno, it’s just contests, I guess. In Brazil I didn’t surf that well… At Bells, I felt like I did all I could do with the waves I was given. Whatever. It didn’t go my way. I think it really is just luck of the draw. You get tough breaks sometimes and that’s it.

That’s a good attitude. What about how you feel? I saw you a lot with the Medicine ball around at Froggies before your Snapper heats. I actually feel really comfortable right now. I was working out with Wes Berg there and he came down to Bells, as well. It’s so good just to have some people in your corner, you know? It gives you that little extra confidence. In Rio, I was kinda just cruising with the Nike team. It definitely affects your results. You look at any other sport and the top guys always have five guys in their corner.

So competition-wise things haven’t been great, but Kai Neville’s calling you the stand-out his new film, Lost Atlas. I’m psyched for Kai to say that, ’cause when you film with him, he doesn’t really say anything, it’s just like “Yeah, that was cool.” So I’m stoked to hear that. I haven’t actually seen the film yet.

When you’re the standout performer in the year’s best surf film, as a pro surfer do you ever stop and think, heck, I don’t actually need to compete.
 I’ve definitely thought about that. Just ’cause going on surf trips with your friends is way more fun than grinding it out in heats. But you know, it’s what you’ve gotta do to stay relevant in the sport.

So contests are the way to stay relevant in surfing? 
Yeah, unless you make some crazy new blog, the likes of which has never been done before. ‘Cause it takes a year to make a good surf film, so you’d just disappear for a year and everyone’d be like, “Oh, what happened to him?” But if you do contests, there’s one every month and there’s so much hype around every event these days. It’s kinda a bummer that the dream tour’s not the dream tour anymore, though.

I was gonna ask you about that. Is this really the dream tour? I’d say that back when Andy won his three world titles it was the dream tour. When he and Kelly were battling, they were going from Fiji to Tahiti, and there was that year at Mexico. It’s just changed now. It’s like we’re just surfing beachbreaks all year, I guess. But, oh well.

Back to Lost Atlas – One of the best airs in the film is your frontside air late-revert. Kai said you told him afterwards that you changed your mind mid-way through cause you thought it was lame.
 Oh, the one in Mexico. I haven’t seen it, but I felt pretty lame after I did it. You know, when you do an air-reverse or something, you don’t want it to be a flat air-reverse, and I think that’s kinda what that was.

On that note, it seems like there’s a few younger guys now that’re taking it back to power surfing and moving away from airs. That’s actually, like, exactly what I’ve been thinking lately. I haven’t done an air in a while. It feels good though, just because, that’s surfing. It (aerial surfing) wasn’t how surfing started. That traditional kinda surfing is so much more fun to watch and so much more pure. It really shows how good a surfer is if he can just destroy a wave and not go to the air. That’s my favourite to watch and Taylor Knox is one of my favourites to watch do that. Lately, I’ve been trying to just put it right on rail. Surf more powerfully. I got a lot of room to improve there. I’ve been watching how Kelly does his hacks and how Andy did his hacks, I just try and study those guys.

Even though people talk about flaring in contests, is power surfing still the true key to winning world tour heats? 
For sure. That’s the surfing I wanna see, so that’s what I’m gonna try and do. But I guess, the way they’re judging it now, I’m a little confused. Like Owen and Adriano’s heat. Owen did those two airs and got pretty average scores. Then Adriano did that floater… but it was a gnarly floater, over a shallow section on the sand. I dunno, I just think the judging’s been pretty weird this year. It’s still in that transition, I guess, of if they wanna score airs or if they wanna score turns.

You’ve done a few trips this year with younger guys and you surfed in the Lowers Prime where there were a bunch of new-jacks, who are your favourite up-and-comers at the moment? There’s so many of them. There’s, like, 30 good Brazilian kids right now, it’s crazy. Kolohe’s fun to watch, too.

Your heat at Lowers against Kolohe was one of the best this year, so far. Ha! He took me to school, brah. Grommet just smoked me. Back to the drawing board.

And what about the world title race? Who’s gonna be the world champ? 
My pick? I’d like to see Joel win. Just ’cause he’s one of those guys whose surfing I really admire. He surfs like the guys that I wanna watch surf. I dunno… who’s winning right now?

Adriano De Souza is world number one. Adriano’s leading? Oh, nice. It’d be sick to see him win, too. Or anybody, I guess. I’d like to win! (Laughs). But it’d be cool for the sport to have a Brazilian world champ. – Elliot Struck


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