The SURFER Interview: Shane Dorian
At 31-years-old, after 12 years as part of our lives, Shane Dorian has
announced his retirement from the ASP world tour. A man of his word, he means it.
Yet with his secret smile, his legendary loyalty to his friends and family, his
loose, powerful style and his unquestioned courage in impossible waves, he is in
no way going to disappear. The world just won’t let him.
Since his humble beginnings on the big island of Hawaii, Shane has so far been
present for us. Without any world titles or triple crowns, without any real
reputation as a stellar competitor, without any real memories of epic pro
clashes, Shane has always captured the respect among his peers and the
imagination of his fans that has transcended his mere competitive feats. To see
him push over the ledge at Waimea, or fearlessly haul into gaping maws at Pipe or
to sky-dive into the maelstrom at Teahupoo is to see the kind of commitment, the
kind of spirit, the kind of surfing that takes one’s breath away. Often reserved
and introspective, Shane plays his cards close to his chest. He can afford to. He
knows his has a winning hand in life.
Spiritually adventurous on land and sea, he’s “kept it real.” It is his way.
His bushido. Maybe that is what being from the Big Island is all about. Shane
rose from the shade of the hau tree at his beloved Banyans to the very heights of
professional surfing, carrying within him the mana of the island of fire. A place
he calls home–a place he is forever faithful to. Perhaps this fire is what lives
in his heart, fuels his dreams, drives his passion for excellence. As easy going
as he may seem, with his rock star looks and quiet confidence, his dedication to
his physical well-being borders on the obsessive. Like a middleweight boxer,
Shane has always showed up ready to rumble, whipcord lean, focused. His
significance in the surfing world, indeed what might become history’s memory of
him in the years ahead, is not only his surfing, but in the way he has lived his
life as a man.
As Shane continues to ride waves with his wild elegance, as he begins his
second act in life, the world will watch on, unable to look away every time he
paddles out. Because Shane carries with him more than just skills. He carries the
example of a life that is being well lived. It was this same spirit that inspired
the closing lines of “In God’s Hands” the Hollywood film he once starred in.
“How far are you willing to go? What sacrifices are you willing to make? How good
do really want to be?” Shane Dorian will never have to wonder. He answers these
questions with every beat of his heart.
The following conversation took place between Shane Dorian and Matt George on
February 5, 2004. Shane had just come in from tending to his mixed-fruit orchard
on his 11-acre ranch, 4000 feet up the slopes of Hualalai overlooking his
hometown of Kona, Hawaii.
SURFER: Shane, you’ve officially retired from the ASP tour.
SHANE DORIAN: That’s right.
SHANE DORIAN: There were a few factors involved. Number one, I was in Portugal surfing in a
contest a year and a half ago, the waves were one-foot and I lost my heat. I was
on the WQS. I was doing a couple events because I was doing crappy on the WCT–I
hated doing the WQS. I was miserable. I came in after losing a heat, the waves
were one-foot and I didn’t care and no one else cared. I came in and I checked my
emails and my friend was in Tahiti and he sent me photos of Teahupoo that very
same day. The waves were fifteen feet, glassy and the guys were getting spit out
of barrels. I said, “That’s it, my days on the ASP tour are numbered because I
don’t ever wanna miss perfect waves again.” Surfing that dribble in Portugal that
nobody cared about, let alone me…it just broke me.
SURFER: How do your sponsors feel about it?