All Photos: Brent Bielmann
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Shane Dorian should be your role model. The 41-year-old from Kona, Hawaii has worn more hats — and worn them well — than perhaps any other surfer in history. WCT Top-5 finisher. World record holder. Big-wave barrel connoisseur. XXL Award staple. Webcast commentator. Inventor. Actor. OK, maybe that last hat didn’t fit perfectly, but still, the guy does life about as well as life can be done. And although he is the undisputed big-wave champion of the world, he knows surfing isn’t the end-all and be-all. Shane’s priorities are as straight as the arrow of his bow, or the stringer of his 10’6”. —Taylor Paul
SHANE: When I was young, Brock Little probably influenced me more than anyone in big waves. He was about five years older than me and already well-respected in the big-wave game at just 19 or 20 years old, surfing closed-out Waimea. I really looked up to Brock, and he kinda took me under his wing.
We used to stay in the Hill House on the North Shore. Everyone from Brock to Kelly to Ross Williams to Todd Chesser and all the California guys would come crash on the floor. And being, like, 15 years old around all those guys, it was a really good atmosphere to grow. Our first year, whenever it was big, Ross, Matty Liu, Kelly and I would all go surf Reforms. Then Brock and Todd got sick of seeing us surf there and made sure the next time it got big we were surfing with them.
Today, my peers push me more than anyone. I’m not so much influenced as I am inspired. Guys like Mark Healey, Ian Walsh, Reef McIntosh, Greg Long, Twiggy. Those guys are a lot more active than I am, chasing every swell. But they also surf the waves in a different way. They don’t have a “cowboy” approach; they surf big waves in a more technical way.
I’ve fallen in love with bow-hunting for the same reasons I love surfing. Surfing is always there when I’m stressed and have a lot going on. It sounds cliché, but the same goes for bow-hunting. It’s not what everyone thinks it is — just killing animals and getting a bunch of meat. For me, it’s about the adventure and being out there alone and resetting everything. Although I do love the meat. And there are parallels between hunting and surfing big waves, for sure. For both it’s key to be patient, disciplined and level-headed.
When there’s that huge day and you’ve been training heavily, everything is coming together and you’re out there on your board, it seems so important in the moment. It seems like everything is on the line and you have to step up right then, but I think you have to keep things in perspective. I love to surf big waves and I love to chase swells, and for a long time if I missed a big day, I would lose sleep over it. But I don’t lose sleep over that kind of thing anymore. It’s just surfing. I’d say on my list of priorities, my family takes up the first five spots.