Under The Influence: Shane Dorian

posted by / Magazine / December 26, 2013

All Photos: Brent Bielmann

Shane Dorian, owner of a gentleman's smile.

Shane Dorian, owner of a gentlemanly smile.

Not your average professional surfer's trophy room.

Your average professional surfer's trophy room.

By the horns, Shane. By the horns.

By the horns, Shane. By the horns.


February Issue 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.

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  • Mik

    Shane’s surfing is a worthy role-model. Absolutely.

    But killing wild animals for sport? Seems senseless to me.

    I did it when I was a young teenager. But personally, I grew out of the mentality that killing a basically defenseless animal (compared to what I was armed with) was fun, or made me a man. It may have been cool 200 years ago, but there’s hardly any wildlife left.

    In fact, there’s hardly any fish left for that matter.

    Mankind is the most abusive species on earth.

    I surf to be part of Nature, in an appreciative way. It inspires me to respect and protect the ocean, and it’s inhabitants.

    Yeah, I eat Sushi. But I eat local fish in small restaurants. I don’t dragnet fish populations in the reckless way corporate fishing machines do, and I resent them.

    Sorry. I respect dustin Barca’s work more. He’s awesome.

    Don’t tell me how I should live beyond surfing, Taylor, because I already know what’s best for me.

  • dw


    He clearly states that he bow-hunts for the meat. And he certainly isn’t bow-hunting for fish, so not sure where you dragged that out of. He isn’t hunting for sport. No suggestions on how you should live your life here, beyond working on basic reading comprehension.

  • Merk

    Mik, youre an uneducated pussy. Do you eat chicken? How do you think you got that chicken? they are mass killed super brutally. He kills animals to eat. I hate when people complain about hunting. Such hypocrits..

  • Alan

    Shane Dorian:

    Its something of great value to be at the forefront of surfing. Could the powers that be persuade you to considerer applying to the Capitol One Quicksilver credit card. The similarity, however disparaging, to Quiksilver, the retailer and entertainment conglomerate, would be best suited for funding your next pursuit of riding the biggest and best at the next frontier. Could I also persuade you to go with your next color palate of amythest, due to the nature of this argument and the fundamental branching of surfings governance. Preposterous as it seems for the 11 time world champion, Kelly S. to have to remedy this inasmuch as an alternative to you riding the waves – go with Capital One. God speed.

  • Brah

    Mik, hunting wild boar in Hawaii is actually good for the environment. Boars are incredibly destructive. Also, bow-hunting is a env. friendly way to do it, they don’t leave lead shots behind, and you are killing maybe one per trip. Also, boars aren’t exactly defenseless.
    Merk you are right but don’t be an asshole.

  • Center Line

    Shane seems to be a fotunate and appreciative person who knew what he wanted early on and worked hard at getting it.

  • Mik

    No i dont eat chicken. I dont eat beef. I dont eat anything I wouldnt kill.

    Mainly vegetarian, some fish/shrimp/crab — vegetables of the sea?) — since I left home at age 18. Surfing since I was 14, till now.

    BA in Graphic Design / MA in Education.

    Have surfed Pipeline, Sunset, Cloudbreak, Indo, and almost triple overhead secret reef breaks in 44 degree water above Jenner CA. Surfed alone in Nor Cal water, often.

    So you’re wrong on all accounts.

    Not like I wasn’t anticipating some neg responses :-)

    But look: I like Shane, and I understand what he is saying and doing…

    I just don’t agree with killing deer, etc. There’s too few left, and I’d rather look at them than kill them. Shoot a target. In another 50 years there won’t be any wildlife. Just a bunch of uptight humans like yourself.

    Stick to that carnivore diet and by the time ur 50 you’ll be on BP meds, you’ll need viagra to get it up, and then you’ll die of a heart attack…


  • Mik

    @ Brah: I didnt see any boar-heads on the wall. But I get it. at the same time, I don’t.

  • Mike = IDIOT

    there are to many Deer? Deer should never have been introduced to Hawaii since they kill all agriculture and native plants but that right you have a degree. Most states have a deer problem because there are too many since the top predator ( wolfs ) were nearly extinct in North America.

    You eat fish ? well thanks a lot you kook There are far less fish in the ocean than deer or wild boar roaming the earth.

    Keep eating your “sea vegetables” and have radiation or mercury poising by the time your 50. GET A CLUE

    Go back to school you donk.

  • Semicolon

    Seems like a level headed person who knows where his priorities lie and lives accordingly; surfs like a F-ing maniac…Shane’s the man, I’ve looked up to him since I was a grom.

  • Makingthedrop

    Mik- local “harvesting” of non-indigenous species like wild board and turkeys can actually be a good thing ecologically. Nutrition wise, most of the latest findings regarding diet is that meat is really good for you, especially if wild or pasture raised. Many of the modern ailments and heart issues have more to do with vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola, etc.), processed carbohydrate foods/grains and sugar. Humans are highly adaptable to various diets, but the nutritional “low-no fat” guidelines brought to you by the corn-soy-wheat lobby have led us astray. Watch out for the Fukushima water up there! Totally bummed about that along the west coast…

  • Ben

    Hunting what one eats is admirable in my opinion, provided it is done in a pro-environment manner. We should be willing to kill what we eat. Furthermore, the meat resulting from wild game is remarkably healthy compared to standard process meat, with radically different ratios of triglycerides, etc. The phrase “legend” is overused these days, but Shane is becoming the real deal.

  • Nolan

    Mik…deer are extremely overpopulated where I live in the southeast and often cause deadly car accidents. Not sure about the situation in California but where I live there are more than enough. And Brah is right…wild boar are very environmentally destructive.

  • dustinf

    mik…go to lani or molokai and say theres not enough deer…

  • josh

    Mik – your knowledge of wildlife and nature seems to end at the waters edge. I think you’re confusing hunting with POACHING. Hunting is done within the legal limits of the law as a form of CONSERVATION as a way of regulating population. This practice has been ongoing for the last 60 years here in the states. Poaching is mindless killing of animals, thats why its illegal. Seems like you’re a pretty smart fella so i’d suggest educating yourself a bit more before you go start spouting off at the mouth ab shit you don’t know about. As for the amount of wildlife that all depends on location and amount of habitat. You, your car, your home and your city are responsible for far more deaths to deer than us hunters are, ever heard of displacement? Seriously, I could go on and on but I think you get the point. BTW human beings have evolved over millions of years by eating MEAT not a bunch of twigs and berries.

  • Chris J

    Eh Mik…..Axis deer are an invasive species in Hawaii and are out of control…the state issues eradication permits to land owners. Get your facts together before you comment on how someone lives their life.


  • La’aloa


    The hunting thing is all good, but I’ve heard your name being thrown around enough with island ranchers to know that you’ve been poaching on private property, near where you live, specifically Palani Ranch. Obviously, not a good thing. Certainly not a reputation you want to cultivate with the old families of the island, because pay back is a bitch. Please be respectful.

  • MaMo

    To all you environmentalists out there, before your get your knickers in a twist about what deer is overpopulated where, I’d suggest you read Mik’s post again and find that his first point is an ethical one rather than an environmental one. He just cannot see the fun in killing another living being. Its a matter of having understood what respecting life actually means. Feeling all connected with the ocean and shit, and then going out game fishing on motor yachts, sorry, can’t see that one either…

  • Magalenes

    Shane is a true testement to his own autocracy. There is a trench North of Puerto Rico, at least 300 fathoms in depth. The greatest challenge (tenement) might be there.

  • are you kidding?

    “Yeah, I eat Sushi. But I eat local fish in small restaurants. I don’t dragnet fish populations in the reckless way corporate fishing machines do, and I resent them.”

    .. so now you’re a qualified seafood critic with inside-out knowledge of the MANY aspects of the seafood industry as well as the business practices of the restaurants you dine at?

    fucking kook.

  • last thing..

    do kooks make assumptions because they lack experience or because they are just supremely knowledgeable? – rhetorical question

    SHANE, and many hunters like him, don’t hunt animals for the fun of killing something. that’s sadistic and if it were the case they’d probably end up killing a people to satiate their sadistic desires.

    in the article he says plain as day, it’s about the adventure itself; and all the other rad nuances that come a long with tracking an animal in nature.

  • GI Joe

    Yeah anyway is Billabong going to make war vehicles – common’ I mean its like saying Shane left the ASPbecause the rules are meant for any condition including “war.” Like Shano is a candidate for real politics. “[Shane] surfs huge waves…bottom line.” GI Joe

  • Big Daddy

    When is it ok to kill a living creature? When is it morally ok to kill one creature and not another? Is it size? Is it quantity? Who is in charge of deciding these things? Is it ok to kill an ant, tadpole, fish, frog, rat, rabbit, bird, goat, cow, deer, whale? If so why? When does it become morally right and wrong?

  • O.C. dude

    mik- you suck. there are so many freakin’ dear around it’s not even funny. they are not an endangered species. get a grip.

  • anyone

    Dorian, like Parsons, redefines himself with big wave surfing. Neither was very successful on the CT, seems like Dorian is better now than in his youth on tour.

    Gotta give him credit for that, but only Shane Beschen challenged Kelly for that entire decade until Andy grew up.

    Think about that. Chris Brown showed a wiff of a challenge, the Momentum Generation (dorian and williams) played happy second fiddles on tour and only Besch showed up.

    Didn’t Sunny and Occ win titles while Kelly was on hiatus? I think so, inconvenient to legacies, but true.

    Shanes found a way to stay relevant with his sponsors and has his head around his family, that alone is solid.

    Webcast and Inventor? I dunno….

  • tdawg

    MIK- I get your point. but it does not apply, both boar and deer are invasive, destructive, non-native, and overpopulated to the point that their are HIRED eradicators in Hawaii to control the pop. so to say that they are scarce and endangered is silly… if people are being hired to mass kill these species, I then much better than that animal killed go to feeding someone than just rotting on the ground. and bow hunting is way more than just killing animals, most of the time you don’t even get one, often taking years of practice to get efficient. If we are talking whitetails in New Jersey, than your opinions apply. you are obviously way off because you do not understand the issue in Hawaii. I have personally seen herds of over 200 axis deer destroying the native vegetation, and packs of boars decimating farms. so…. cool opinion, but way off.

  • Nathan


  • MSG

    Let’s take a tempered view here. I see all of these lop-sided comments, and nearly every argument I’ve read about on a whole range of issues have tempered counter-arguments.

    I agree with Mike that killing for sport is an asshole thing to do. However, killing animals for food or for environmental controls is a different thing. For example, on the Big Island, there is an out-of-control invasive species of frogs from Puerto Rico. They are exceptionally loud and, frankly, they don’t belong in Hawaii. I think it’s ok to eliminate them at any cost. The same goes for tree snakes in Guam, which is wrecking havok on local bird populations. They need to just flat out eliminate those things.

    Boars are a destructive species in Hawaii, and their numbers need to be kept in check. However, I still think it’s weird for people to WANT to kill these things for fun or sport–even though there is a societal benefit in doing so. It speaks more to their character than their overall intentions. Personally, I would be wary of these kinds of people. Killing animals for fun is considered a warning sign for sociopathy, which is, IMO, one of the worst kinds of personality disorders.

  • Kahuna

    Shane stick to surfing. Killing is only acceptable for survival. How would you like to be hunted, killed and displayed a trophy by some asshole??

  • Bobby

    Killing animals for sport or to eat is not right…any one would live longer and be healthier not eating meat…any fool know that…killing for sport is just a small minded dush bag thing to do….hope some one hunts his dumb ass one day …mabe a shark….