For the first time in a long time, Hawaiian surfer Shane Dorian didn’t walk away with a prize at this year’s Billabong XXL Awards, held Friday. Do you think he was worried? Not one bit. GrindTV.com caught up with Dorian to get his views on big waves, prizes, and being the world’s best big-wave surfer.
How much do the rewards of big-wave surfing play a part in your mission to ride giant waves?
None. I don't have any ambition to win a Big Wave [World Tour] world title. I don't have any ambition to win the Eddie Aikau [contest], at all. I don't have any set plans for how long I can do it, or to chase the world record for the biggest wave. I don't have any desire for any titles or awards. I just know I want to surf big waves.
However, the accolades and the rewards keep coming. Do you think the move to paddle surfing from tow surfing has helped you, in terms of profile and getting better and bigger waves than everyone else?
Yes, for sure. At the height of the tow craze, there was no order. At Jaws, for example, there were 60 Jet Skis in the lineup and every single one of those 60 wanted to catch the biggest wave of the day. Not 59, but 60. These days, when that biggest wave of the day comes, out of the 60 people surfing, only three people want that wave, at most. So there is order, which is nice.
And the vibe in the water: How has that changed?
Personally the paddle surf is something that I really, truly love to do. I feel I am now doing what I am supposed to be doing, and that's a good feeling. I do thrive off the energy. When I am traveling now, there is that good, healthy competitive energy, which wasn't there with the tow. Like Chopes [Teahupoo] often just ended up being a Jet Ski race, and you would never be stoked on the other surfers getting the bombs. Now, though, if I see Greg Long, or Benjamin Sanchis, or Mark Healey, or anybody really, who just stacks up and turns around and charges a giant wave, it's such just a cool thing to be a part of and that's where I want to be at this moment.
Do you find now that some people new to the sport or to big-wave surfing don't even know you competed on the ASP World Tour alongside Kelly Slater for a long time?
I mean, maybe, but I spent 11 or 12 years on the pro tour. It was my whole life for at least a whole decade, and when I started out I was hard core. I was a full frother, full competition guy, and I would get really amped up about competing and about trying to beat people, and that lasted for my early 20s. But by my late 20s I was pretty burnt out by it all. I started craving something different, and I wanted to pursue bigger and better waves.
Were you happy with that decision?
Well, yeah, it's been pretty smooth. At the time I was a little unsure, because it was unprecedented. I really didn't have a blueprint to go off at the time. No one had done what I was about to do. On a personal level, every couple of years I reevaluate whether I want to continue chasing super-giant waves and is this the right thing to do. Look, I'm not making millions of dollars, but I get paid in barrels and I get to travel with friends and I get a lot of time at my home. I'm happy where I'm at right now.
Shane Dorian’s 2014 XXL Ride of the Year nomination is below:
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