Stab Magazine | The Sportswriter: Shane Dorian
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The Sportswriter: Shane Dorian

From Stab issue 64: The Sportswriter, with Shane Dorian, 40, Kona Hawaii. Words by Derek RiellyPortrait by Morgan Maassen Not even four weeks ago (at time of writing!), our hero Shane Dorian was being tossed around like salad in the bad ol Atlantic Ocean. Do you have awareness of the great Nazare trench in Portugal? […]

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

SportsFrom Stab issue 64: The Sportswriter, with Shane Dorian, 40, Kona Hawaii.

Words by Derek Rielly
Portrait by Morgan Maassen

Not even four weeks ago (at time of writing!), our hero Shane Dorian was being tossed around like salad in the bad ol Atlantic Ocean. Do you have awareness of the great Nazare trench in Portugal? Oh, it’s something. Five thou’ metres deep, 230 clicks long. It shovels swells into a stretch of beach whereupon mongo peaks are created. And, it was among these mongo peaks that Shane, along with fellow Billabong team riders, Ben Sanchis and Eric Rebiere, paddle surfed at size, for the very first time, these fierce fucks. Can you believe Shane flew internationally to Portugal, from Hawaii, to catch three waves? It’s true? “The place is a logistical nightmare,” says Shane. “We lost a couple of skis. And, it’s really hard to do rescues there, really really hard. Each surfer needs his own water rescue guy on a ski. At all times. It’s really super dangerous. There’s a cliff there. All that shit. Once, I caught a wave and we lost one of the skis in the shore break. I finally got back out there an hour later. I got a couple more waves and then we had to ditch another ski on the sand. It is just chaotic. I had one of those feelings that I should be happy with the two waves I caught. It’s a full on beach break. It’s like these big wedges down the beach so every time you catch a wave there’s no way to paddle back out. You need a jet ski to come and get you right away and there’s a rip sucking you straight into a big cliff. It’s a lot like the north shore when the waves are big. The water’s really angry.”

But, we ain’t here to talk big waves so much, but to steal a piece of Shane’s opinion on age, hunting tame animals, watching the devils die, and maybe to deliver us an Elvis Presley story or two…

Stab: How does it feel to be 41?
Shane: I just turned 40. Recently.

Describe what it’s like to be 40 years old then. Is it fabulous? Is it everything you ever dreamed of, and then maybe some more? Ahhhh, the Stab interview. Here we go. Ha! Ah, no. I wouldn’t say it’s fabulous. Forty years old is different for everybody. I think if you’re happy in your life then 40 is awesome and if you’re not happy with where you are at 40 you’re going to be bummed out. It’s that stage of life where you expect yourself to have a direction. If you don’t… phew… it’s probably pretty depressing.

Is it hard because you were a child star and there are so many photos of you when you were a beautiful 15 year old? Whereas, for me and people like me, we never had fame or beautiful photos? What, you mean that it’s hard to physically deteriorate?

Well, to so publicly physically deteriorate? Ha ha! Um… no. It’s kinda not. It’s easier than I thought it might be. I’m a lot less vain than I used to be. Which is nice.

Were you vain? I think I was. But, these days, I’m working on the inside.

That is so the nicest part. Well, as you get older, that’s all you’ve got left.

Tell me this, because I know you’re a hunting kinda guy. I saw a photo of Alex Gray with his first kill. And he killed a sheep. Now, killing sheep don’t seem to be a difficult thing to do. Killing boars, there’s an element of danger there cause they nasty, but a fur ball? That’s a perception I can totally relate to and I’m sure Alex can too because until recently he was a non-hunter. When you don’t hunt you have these perceptions, these presumptions, of what it’s like, but for Alex, he’s new to the hunting thing, brand new, and it’s like, and this might be a weird analogy, when you take your girlfriend surfing you don’t throw her on a little thin narrow thruster that’s five-nine, you throw her on a longboard, right?

Jaws, 2012, paddle sesh. If you want to know why the standard of big-wave surfing has vaulted so in the last five years, it's 'cause all those great ex-pros, Dorian and co, have switched their attention to the unpaddled realm. Spoiled young middle-class heroes with fleas in their beards and rashes in their groins suddenly turned into men. Photo by Zak Noyle/A-Frame

Jaws, 2012, paddle sesh. If you want to know why the standard of big-wave surfing has vaulted so in the last five years, it’s ’cause all those great ex-pros, Dorian and co, have switched their attention to the unpaddled realm. Spoiled young middle-class heroes with fleas in their beards and rashes in their groins suddenly turned into men. Photo by Zak Noyle/A-Frame

Right… exactly right… so it makes sense to kill easy beasts first… With hunting, Alex, um, sheep are actually…um…people absolutely froth to hunt sheep. The sheep that people hunt are not the sheep that you’re used to. They’re not like sheep in New Zealand that just stare at you. It’s definitely not as easy as you’d think. But, there are game animals that are more exciting.

Are the sheep vicious? Or do you start with tame animals so nothing bad can happen in the initial stages? Ha ha ha! Yep! They’re rabid. They like nothing more than eating humans.

So, for Alex, it was kill or be killed? I doubt it. But, but they have meat on them and if you…if you… if you don’t disagree with eating animals there’s nothing wrong with eating a sheep and hunting one. And, his freezer probably wasn’t full before he went hunting and now it’s full of meat and he did it with his bow and he’s probably pretty stoked about it.

Do you believe we’re too removed from what meat actually is and from the act of killing? That it ain’t just a miracle that appears in foam trays, covered in cling wrap, in supermarket refrigerators? That little shanks and delicious hams do come from a cuter-than-heavens lamb or mischievous piglet? There’s no doubt about it. You know what’s really funny? How people can differentiate, like you automatically, like it’s society and our upbringing, but you automatically decided that a sheep was less sporting than a boar. That they’re less desirable game animals just because of the way they look. If I put a photo on Instagram of me and my bow and a dead boar with big ol teeth hanging out and looking vicious everyone’s like “Good job! Get those nasty boars!” and if I put a picture up of me and a doe, a female deer, with my bow, people lose their shit. Everyone automatically thinks I’m Satan cause I kill a deer. It’s the same thing. My friends will go spear fish and you can put 50 million dead fish on Instagram and no-one will ever say a thing. But, if you put one Bambi on Instagram people lose it. I don’t see the difference between fish and deer. Do you?

Honey, I’m a vegan. So you preach to the converted. But, back to the sheep thing. They look so friendly! So tame! And, look, here they come up to this nice man in camouflage, expecting a pat, maybe some kind of inter-species communication and…pow! That I struggle with… Yeah! I know what you mean! But, just to clarify, not that it’s interesting for your readers, but there are some types of sheep that are not difficult to hunt, but there are sheep that have incredible senses, really insane eyesight, and who are extremely paranoid so they are difficult to get close to with a bow.

Can you describe the process of death up close? You must enjoy profound insights of life and death, all the killin’ y’do, sitting astride the doomed Bambi, tearing your serrated edge across its carotid artery. Do you see the life drain out of their eyes? Hee! Hee! Are you kidding me, man? It’s fucking exactly how you think it is. For me, when I have to do that, not that I have to do that, but when I go hunting, a lot of times that’s the case. You have to finish the animal off. And, to me, I try and do it as quickly and as humanely as possible. It is what it is. I choose to go hunting. I choose to harvest animals for food. When you go and order a steak at your local restaurant you never think about the animal that died for it. But, every single time you eat meat, there’s a dead animal there. And, people are so far removed that they don’t see that. But, I think it’s good for you to kill an animal if you eat meat. That way you can appreciate the life that was taken. Like y’said, I think people think that beef is raised in little plastic containers and it comes as a steak. But, yeah, it’s part of the deal when you go hunting. You’re taking an animal’s life. For me, still to this day, every single animal I’ve harvested or killed or however you want to call it, I’ve always felt remorse for them. I feel sad. That feeling has never gone away from me and I hope it never does, actually.

It makes you appreciate the sanctity of eating meat? Yeah, I mean, it’s taking responsibility for your action.

Can we slide back to the original question? Have you had any awesome moments where you’ve watched the life slip away from an animal you’ve winged? The big brown eyes of the deer staring into yours, understanding that it’s over, but somehow appreciative they will be butchered by a hunter with conscience? Hee her hee… have I ever what?

You’ve winged deer. You go up to it. It’s gonna die. It looks at you. Those connections, I ask… Yes. I have had that. And I have had that look where they know it’s over.

So much room! Enough for Shane's curling irons, his tweezers and handbag. Oh, wait! That was 1991 Shane! Enough room in 2012 for bow, for arrows and deer coffins. Photo: Epes/A-Frame

So much room! Enough for Shane’s curling irons, his tweezers and handbag. Oh, wait! That was 1991 Shane! Enough room in 2012 for bow, for arrows and deer coffins. Photo: Epes/A-Frame

What a special moment! Well, it’s, for some people it’s not a moment at all. They probably don’t even notice it. They just get the knife out and do the old one-two. And they never think about it again. But, for, you know, I’m actually…(laughs)… an animal lover. I love animals. And, I love deer. I love taking photos of them, I love getting close to them. I appreciate everything about them. But, I do love hunting them and eating them.

Your dad was a stunt double for Elvis Presley, the highly regarded entertainer. Do you have any experiences involving Elvis? I was a little, little kid so it wasn’t like he was telling me stories of Elvis pounding chicks. It was more, like, he told me that Elvis couldn’t swim and that’s why he had to be a stunt double for Elvis because Elvis was in a lot of movies based on Hawaii.

When you watch Blue Hawaii, can you make out y’pops? Yeah, in scenes where he’s swimming with a girl, you can tell, if you look…

Y’dad was a handsome devil… He was a very handsome guy.

Do you take after your father or mother. I look like how they’d look if you put ‘em in a blender. I’m in-between.

Now, your mum was a body builder. That’s true, ain’t it? For a time, yes. She did a couple of competitions. It was like a phase. She got in shape and wanted to see if she could do it. She wasn’t a bodybuilder like all roided out…

Did that influence you? You’ve always had a beautiful body. (Laughter)…oh god…

How about that story of you when you spent an entire day doing sets of 30 push-ups ever 30 minutes. True or apocryphal? I do it every day 365 days a year. Every thirty minutes.

Now y’just teasing me… Okay, I was in Tahiti staying with Parko and Dusty Payne and Wes Berg, their physical trainer. There were a bunch of lay days in a row and it was day number seven and I was bored and I woke up at five-thirty in the morning and I did 30 push-ups and thought, I’ll do another 30 push ups in half-an-hour and then I just did it three times and then I went, I’m just going to do it for 12 hours, 30 every 30. It was a way for me to pass the day.

That’s a grand daddy total of 720. How was the aftermath? Why don’t you do it tomorrow and see how it feels?

That ain’t gonna happen. Why not? You don’t have to be that in shape to do 30 push ups every 30 minutes. It’s not that much of a struggle. More of a pain in the ass. But it makes the day go by quick, I’ll tell you that.

Stab issue 64 is on sale now, digitally, just here. Do you dare bounce over? Is page-turning the same in this digital age?

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