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PHOTO: Dorian Takes Aim at Surf Photographer (via Tracks Magazine)

Shane Dorian takes aim at Duncan Macfarlane in West Oz. Photo: Macfarlane

The pressure to present pro surfers in a different light sometimes forces mag editors to do stupid things. A few years back I was on a trip with Team Billabong in WA. With Taj serving as tour guide we scored at a couple of undercover locations and gorged on tubes for three days straight. The Indian Ocean swells were so deliciously blue and hollow that we ended up running three separate covers of Taj, Parko and Shane Dorian on the cover of Tracks. That was the easy part. Not the stupid part.

While water photography specialist, Pat Stacy, dripped in the glory of three separate page ones, it had been Duncan Macfarlane who pulled off the toughest shot of the trip and subsequently received no recognition for it.

Dorian had showed up with his complete bow and arrow kit because he was headed to the NSW hinterland on a hunting trip after snaring a few baby barrels with the boys. Shane had actually secured his own hunting sponsorship and the archery rig he rolled with was a sophisticated example of weaponry engineering. This was no bent bit of wood with a twanging cord of pig’s gut. The intricately designed compound bow, complete with lever systems and cables carried all the mystique of a big wave gun. Shane told riveting tales of do or die shots on charging wild bulls and the moose he’d tracked for three days before making the kill. He also explained his unbending commitment to eat every pound of flesh on his prey. Shane was no joy slayer.

Eager to capture another dimension of Shane Dorian’s adventurous life I asked Duncan Macfarlane if he would be so bold as to take a shot of Shane with the bow drawn and the arrow aimed directly down the lens.

As a young photographer eager to make his bones in the industry, Duncan indicated he was game to take the shot. When we asked Shane if the photo was possible he assured us he could pull it off. This was Shane Dorian, Momentum generation ripper, conqueror of Jaws and slayer of razorbacks. If Shane said he could do it, I believed him.

We went out to the backyard, Shane with his bow and arrow, Duncan with his own shooting device and me suddenly wondering why I’d shot my mouth off about the idea in the first place. The horrific possibilities of what could go wrong were spinning through my mind as Shane loaded up the arrow and drew back on the bow while Duncan positioned himself directly in the line of fire. With camera lens pointed directly at the arrowhead, Shane squinted as if to take aim and Duncan hit the trigger a few times. For a few seconds, the machine gun clicking of the camera shutter was the only noise. Now that he’d taken the risk, Macfarlane was determined to get the shot just right and started working different angles. As I watched on in fear, Duncan’s every movement and press of the trigger felt like further tempting fate. Eventually Dorian said with quiet assurance, “Ok let’s get this done because, you know, I don’t want to hold this for too long just in case.” When Dorian suggests he’s tiring you listen, because it’s not often he admits to a thing like that. Duncan peppered a few my shots, then put the camera down and I breathed a sigh that I hadn’t been responsible for pro surfing’s first death by portrait shot.

When I delivered the shots to the art director back at the office he decided that the kamikaze angle wasn’t the one he wanted for the feature and went with a different image. I was pretty gutted and felt like the risk taken by Shane and Duncan had been a waste of time. Shane Dorian just won ride of the year for spearing through the eye of a giant Jaws tube. Thought it was as good time as any to tell the story of the time he aimed an arrow straight down the lens of Duncan Macfarlane’s camera.

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Dusty Payne to Win Brazil? (via Tracks Magazine)

2016 has been all about shifting limelight and unexpected faces. Is Dusty Payne next?


Dusty shows some fins-free form at Bells. Photo: WSL/Kelly Cestari

First Wilko, then Seabass? For all the hype this year about the changing of the guard, about the young blood rallying against the oppressive old leaders, the craziest part is still the fact that two former tour bums in their late-twenties have won the opening three events. I mean, who could’ve predicted it? It’s almost comical in a way—a pair of talented class clown-types finding themselves in the form of their lives and taking everyone, including themselves, by surprise. It’s been cool to watch, and has delivered some funny moments on the podium and in post-final interviews (see Seabass’s hilarious Jeff Spicoli impersonation at Margaret River), but perhaps most refreshingly, it’s allowed us to wonder who else could step into the kind of territory that’s previously seemed off-limits to them.

As a competitor, Dusty Payne has been like the surfing equivalent of that footy team you love who never wins—flawed and luckless, with moments of utter brilliance. It’s been painful to watch at times, seeing him pair a nine with a two or simply get outwitted, injured, or fall off tour. But as any fan of his freesurfing knows, the guy’s capable of producing some of the most innovative and well-rounded surfing around. His parts in Lost Atlas and the Volcom movies attest to that, as do the rare moments we’ve seen him catch fire in a jersey, such as the dream re-qualification run he got on in the Triple Crown a few years ago or his opening round win over Medina at the Quikky Pro last year. But all too often it’s been disappointing, and as a result it’s led us to assume that the dude is probably better suited to the freesurfing realm than the competitive arena. Some surfers just aren’t meant to put it together in heats, that’s the way it is.

Photo: WSL/Kirstin Scholtz

Or that’s the way it was, at least, until Matty Wilko and Seabass proved to everyone that it’s never too late to pull your finger out and show people what you’re made of. It hasn’t taken a complete overhaul on their behalf either—a re-evaluation of goals, the addition of a coach or offsider, a touch of good form and suddenly, wham, one and two in the world.

So will Dusty Payne be the next underachiever to step up to the podium? Well, if the surfing he’s been doing at the last two events is anything to go by, it’s not out of the question. He’s looked sharp and determined, he hasn’t fallen off with the same frequency, he’s put on some of the performances of the early rounds, he just hasn’t been winning. According to the WSL he’s a confirmed starter in Rio, and although the shifty peaks of Barra da Tijuca might not seem like his most obvious canvas, keep in mind that other all-rounders like Jordy and John John have previously won there. If a few close calls start going his way, and if he can get his confidence up into the same ballpark as his talent, then don’t be surprised to see him follow in the footsteps of Wilko and Seabass and put up a big result in Brazil.

2016 has been all about shifting the limelight onto unexpected faces, and Dusty Payne could be the latest dark horse to step out of the shadows.

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