Stab Magazine | The Confession Box, with Dusty Payne

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The Confession Box, with Dusty Payne

From Stab issue 68: The Confession Box with Dusty Payne, 24 years old and from Lahaina, Maui… Words by Derek Rielly | Photos by Tom Carey When your electronic mailbox is inflated by photos such as the ones here and over the page, it drives you to seek a conversation with their master. Dusty Payne, […]

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

From Stab issue 68: The Confession Box with Dusty Payne, 24 years old and from Lahaina, Maui…

Words by Derek Rielly | Photos by Tom Carey

When your electronic mailbox is inflated by photos such as the ones here and over the page, it drives you to seek a conversation with their master. Dusty Payne, ain’t he just the critic’s fave? Ever since he introduced us to his out-on-the-flats delayed spins and dizzying frontside disasters in Lost Atlas, the world has been overwhelmed by his animated glitter.

But what ain’t right in Dusty’s world, right now, is the hinge and surrounding gristle that absorbs his turns. Duz tore his medial collateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament (two of the four major ligaments in the knee) mid-cutback at Lowers, just before the US Open in July.

“Most of my injuries come from surfing on the face,” says Dusty.

“Serves y’right for doin’ a cutback,” you say.

“I need a jet pack,” Dusty says, anything but gloomy. “It’s just one of those hurdles you’ve gotta get over. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

But what if that light is the spirit of god! Perhaps Dusty’s close to death and he don’t even know it! Don’t take him almighty! We like! Whatevs, let’s linger on the phone and interview…

Stab: What’s the biggest mental hurdle you’ve had to overcome?
Dusty: Competing. You don’t feel good when you lose. I get really bummed out and disappointed and down on myself. I get about a thousand voices in my head talking to me. Stuff like, “I’m such such a kook.” I get real negative. So I’m working on turning those negatives around and being positive on the whole thing. But it’s not easy. It’s harder than going and training physically. You have to constantly work on it. Not every event is going to be perfect for you.

What’s been the greatest moment of your life? My brother just had a niece in February (lil Brynn) and it’s crazy seeing my brother who I grew up with having a kid. It was pretty awesome to come home and finally meet her. And Margaret River earlier this year (Prime event, 40-gee first prize) was another moment. I’ve never won an event that big. Still, being home with family is more important.

Have you ever truly believed you were about to die? Yeah, I’ve had a few of those. When I was younger, maybe 17, when I was just getting into towing with my Dad, we were out one day and he let me go into a wave. And when he came back to pick me up the rope went around me and then a wave came. My Dad had to leave and he went around the other side and the rope did a full circle around me. Underwater, I felt the rope tighten against my neck. My Dad was taking off on the ski and the rope tightened all the way, choking me. I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, this is the end” as it pulled harder and harder. All of a sudden, the handle hit me in the head right before I blacked out. I really thought that was it. My neck was bleeding, I had no air, I thought I was going to die. Afterwards people looked at me funny for a bit. They thought the rope burn on my neck was a suicide attempt.

What do you dream about? Beating Kelly Slater. That’s my dream. I thought I’d had him so many times, I’ve come so close, but then he just bumps me. I thought I had him one time at the US Open and he did a huge backside air and got a 9.8. That would’ve been a good one to win. Damn it Kelly! I just want one!

What about real-life, childhood dreams? I always wanted to be in the air force here in the US, an air force pilot and fly those fighter jets. My dad was a pilot for Aloha airlines, my Uncle was in the navy and I totally looked up to my Dad and my Uncle. Later, I got terrified of flying. I still hate it.

Ultimate sense of happiness? Sitting on the couch on Sunday watching football.

When you lie in bed, late at night into dark, what do you think about? That I wish I was playing in the NFL. That’s my ultimate dream. I always think about it.

What’s your biggest fear? Flying is my biggest fear, for sure. I remember this one flight on the way to California when I was younger and we hit turbulence and I was, like, what…is…going…on? Ever since then I’ve been scared of flying. Turbulence is the worst thing in the world. But I’ve come to peace with it. If a plane goes down it’s God’s way of saying it’s my time. But it’d be a bummer to die in a plane crash. I’ve always thought of bringing a parachute on an airplane. Like, it starts going down and I open the door and say, “Peace! I’m out!”

Do you think about fate? I know you can control your own fate but there are things that are just out of your hands. There are certain things you can’t control.

What do you like about your body? My teeth are straight.

What do you dislike about your body? I wish my knee was better.

Have you ever felt love? Yeah, my parents love me. I’ve never had a girlfriend or nothing. I dunno why. I haven’t found the right one.

What’s the worst insult you’ve ever received? Being told my hair is reddish-blond from you guys.

What one person do you hate most in the world? Osama Bin Laden. Hitler.

Have you ever felt truly hated by someone? I’m sure there is. But I don’t know ‘em. To them I say, I’m sorry! Whatever it is I’ve done!


Monstrous, ain’t it. And here’s a lil known fact. The only time Dusty has injured himself has been when he’s crawling through cutbacks. A curio that suggests Dusty should get high and stay there.

You can now buy Stab issue 68 in its digital entirety, here.


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