Reinventing: The Big-Wave Line

posted by / Magazine / April 24, 2012

Shane Dorian recounts this Maverick’s gem. The theory behind his surfboard and approach? Think shorter.

From his world record Jaws paddle-in wave to inventing the inflatable V1 life vest, Shane Dorian has pushed big-wave surfing more than anyone in the past few years. And on February 8, 2012 the Hawaiian once again raised the bar. This time at Maverick’s. Already a quarter of the way down a glassy 20-footer, Shane adjusted his line 50 degrees and pulled in. On the surface it’s not that new, as it was Shane himself that helped pioneer the barrel at Maverick’s by rolling in from the second bowl two years ago. But this barrel, this line, was more technical and difficult than any before it. The last time we saw it attempted was in 1999, when Peter Mel unsuccessfully tried to backdoor the peak. It’s a fresh approach to a frightening wave, and we asked Shane to walk us through one of the best-ridden waves of the winter. —Taylor Paul

Dorian
Shane Dorian, Maverick’s. Photo: Ryan Craig

SHANE: It was one of my first waves that day and, yeah, it looked like a good one. I was trying to put myself into position because I was like, “Oh, this wave might be hollow and no one’s dropping in on me.” Because at Mav’s, even if there’s a good barrel usually there’s someone in front of you. Anyway, I stood up and it looked like a barrel so I shifted gears and changed direction mid-way down the face. I didn’t really plan on it happening exactly the way it did, because when I look at the pictures and video it looks like I’m falling forward ‘cause I’m leaning so hard. So yeah, it was a happy accident. I didn’t come out, it clamped on me, but I had a good line and a good view so it was a memorable wave. When I went over there, I definitely had it in my mind that I wanted to pull in that way, but I didn’t really plan on it being so intense.

Normally on a 9’8”, it’s pretty difficult to change directions so abruptly. That’s something you do at Backdoor or something, when you’re half way down the face and just dig in and change direction to get in the barrel. But you’re usually pretty limited to what you can do on those huge boards, and I think that’s a testament to how far we’ve come in board design in big waves. My shaper, John Carper, he’s really into trying to make my 9’8” feel very similar to my 5’11”. Even though it’s a much bigger version and it’s meant to catch huge waves, the way it’s supposed to ride, in theory, should be similar to my shortboard. I mean, there is no way you can ride a wave at Maverick’s like you’re on a shortboard, but when I see the sequence I go, “Wow, my board works really good.” There is no way you could pull off that line with a crappy board.

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