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Shane Dorian Discusses Expectations And How To Fly 5 Boards For The Price Of 1

Connectivity's the theme of this century. We are all intertwined, inter-webbed, from Hawaii to Bali, from South Africa to Australia and California to Ireland. There’s power in technology; the web now reveals new cultures inciting that familiar feeling of wanderlust while staring at a computer screen, answering emails, watching web-clips, having the Top Ten Places To See Before You Die pop up on your feed. And, it’s easy to fall into the cliché of "the more connected we are, the more distant we become." Welcome back to Red Eye, a Reef x Stab joint where we open the minds of our favourite surfers who’s passports have been filled more times than they can recall. 


Doz is referred to as the best big wave surfer of all-time and it's easy to forget that he still tears in small waves, and punts airs with the best of them. Photo:

For this edition opened we plucked the knowledge of one Shane Dorian. Who had just returned from surfing’s most Luxe event, the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy held on a sliver of sand known as Kuda Huraa. “It was the kind of vacation you want to take your girl on but can’t afford,” Doz tells Stab. “It’s killer. Since it’s sponsored by the Four Seasons they lay it on thick. The accommodations are top-notch with amazing service and food. The contest is really chilled out and the surf’s good. No pressure, just fun. Those are the kind of contests I’m into. We stayed an extra week, my wife was pretty stoked.” 

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Deep in the guts of Oaxaca Shane finds solace. This seems to require some ancient proverb of man v beast or David v Goliath or reality television v reality... Photo: Edwin Morales

Shane’s been traveling the world and surfing for roughly a quarter-century; he’s as apt as any guide on the how to’s of travel. 

Stab: With all the recent terror attacks have you noticed a tightening of security while heading out of the US? 
Doz: It’s not that much more of an issue. Security's a little tighter now than it used to be, but it’s nowhere near how crazy it was after 9/11. It’s mellowed out, at least in America. 

Now compared to 10/15 years ago, how many spots have been blown out due to surf tourism? 
[Laughs] All of them! I don’t know man; I hate to be pessimistic, but there are more surfers now than there have ever been. People love traveling. I used to go to El Salvador, and it was empty, now it’s a zoo with at least 40 guys out. Bali’s probably one of the most crowded places on earth for surfing. The only places that haven't gotten more crowded are California and the North Shore, they’ve been crowded for the last 30 years. 


Dark and swirling blue regions of shade will always be freakishly chic. Photo: Ehitu Keeling

Blame social and surf media for that, yeah? 
For sure [laughs]. That and the fact that there’s a webcam at every break now. Look at Keramas; when I was first going to Bali, it was so uncrowded. There’d only be a few people on it in the morning. Now there’s a resort, a 24-hour webcam, and 100 dudes on it at all times. Between social media, webcams and accurate surf forecasting, there’s not a lot of thinking people have to do. You don’t have to put your time in to track a swell and find good waves. You just need to know how to read a surf forecast. 

People are willing to go to the end of the earth to get good waves. Everyone wants to go to the Mentawais for high-quality surf. From Hawaii, it takes 50 to 60 hours to get there, and when you do there are 50 to 60 guys in the water at every break…it seems wild to travel that far to surf crowded waves. 

Beilman Doz

Mr Dorian's knows wiggle room's not always a bad thing. Photo: Brian Bielmann

If you were to go anywhere right now, to find good, uncrowded waves where would you go? 
Indo’s always a good one; I love it there. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, you can still get high-quality waves to yourself. Last year in Bali I linked up with Mikala Jones and we scored some amazing waves by ourselves. But if you stay in the area where everyone surfs, it’s starting to look like Snapper. 

So the dream of surfing world class waves with just your friends isn’t dead yet? 
You can still find plenty of uncrowded waves. But most the time you have to be willing to surf substandard spots to escape the crowds. 

What are the essentials to bring along when traveling? 
I’m hungry all the time, so I bring a lot of snacks. Half my bag is full of food. I pack a lot of almond butter, nuts and green superfood. A lot of places you go there’s not vegetables. Like in Tahiti, it’s impossible to find something green to eat. Those superfood vegetable powders are good to keep you feeling regular and get the nutrients you're used to. Then the usual, sunscreen, sunglasses, music, my portable speaker, a hard drive full of movies. Anything to keep me entertained while on the move. 


Photo: Ehitu Keeling

Flying to say the Maldives, or anywhere that requires more than a day's worth of travel, how many boards do you bring? 
The one good thing about traveling these days is I can bring less boards than I did ten years ago. If I went to the Ments I’d bring eight boards because I’d break so many of them. Now I either ride Varial Foam or Firewires; they’re way stronger. I only brought two boards to the Maldives last time and three to the Mentawais. 

Favourite airline? 
Qantas. They have good service and entertainment. And, their flight attendants aren’t 100-year-old mean ladies. When you fly United or American, the flight attendants have been there since the 60’s and seem to get angry when you ask for a glass of water. Virgin’s good too, they seem happy to work there and have you as a client. 


Photo: Ehitu Keeling

Worst thing that’s happened while abroad? 
I lost my passport a long time ago in Europe and had to go to the consulate. That was a shocker. But I’m pretty laid back when it comes to travel. I can have a good time anywhere, even if the waves are shitty. I do get seasick every once in a while, that’s the worst. I can handle flat spells, crowds or whatever, just not seasickness or food poisoning. 

Best advice you can give to anyone about to head into a culture shock? 
Don’t have expectations. Keep an open mind and go with the flow. Expectations set you up for disappointment, if you bring a good attitude and enjoy the travel, you’ll have a good time. 

A travel tip every surfer should know? 
[Laughs] It’s kind of a heavy one but it works. The airport has to be one that makes you take your board bag to oversized luggage. If I have five boards, I’ll take out four and ask somebody to watch them for a second out of view from the bag check kiosk. I’ll check my bag, get it tagged and on the way to oversized luggage fill the bag with the rest of my boards and drop it off. That one has helped me a lot. 

This is the third edition of our Red Eye series with Reef. Can't get enough travel tips? Check out The Essentials For Surf Tripping In A Van And Why Cyrus Sutton Won't Go Back To Russia

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“We got dropped off,” says Cyrus. “There’s no reception without a sat phone; we had a satellite texter — two for mayday, one for we’re okay. When we got there the area had turned into a poacher camp. At first they thought we were military or police. They took us in and for a few days sussed us out. It was obvious they were deciding whether or not they were going to kill us."

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“Hanging out with the right people who are into the same type of waves, the same kind of ‘let's go check around the corner, let’s go here and see what's over there’. It all comes down to friends and curiosity," says Mikala.

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