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Interview: Shane Dorian On The Billabong Inflatable Wetsuit June 07 2011

TransWorld SURF: Let’s start with the wipeout at Mavs in 2010 that got you thinking about a way to make big-wave surfing safer. You’re pretty understated about it—but you were in bed for a few days straight afterward, right?

Shane Dorian: Yeah, I basically had the symptoms of a concussion. I was really rattled physically. I was sick, nauseous, and all that kind of stuff. It was a horrible, horrible wipeout. It was mostly air deprivation kind of stuff. I couldn’t stay awake, and basically slept for two whole days and had a really bad headache, dry heaving a bit. But I don’t want to hype it up too much. It was a terrible wipeout, I almost drowned, but there weren’t any crazy side effects or anything.

Who decides who can get one of these suits?

That’s one reason it’s taken a while for this all to happen, and both Billabong and I have known that’s going to be the hardest thing. It’s tricky. We don’t want people thinking, ‘I’ve always wanted to surf Mavericks,’ or wherever. I don’t want the suit to take the place of experience, ability, common sense, or good judgment. It’s supposed to help make the people who are already doing this and love to surf big waves safer, that’s the point.

What I’ve done at this point is reach out to Twiggy [Grant Baker] from South Africa, and asked him to give me the names of all the guys who are really into it over there. And then I reached out to the Santa Cruz and Maverick’s guys to get a list of guys and girls. The Hawaii guys I sort of know.

But it’s definitely not up to me, I’m not going, ‘Yes, no.’ It’s tricky, and I know Billabong has gotten a lot of requests from people. It’s hard because there are a lot of underground guys who are hardcore big wave riders who surf big waves way more than I do, and who want this suit. I know Billabong is doing the best they can to filter through everything, and make them available for people who love riding big waves. There’s no easy answer though.

The most public preview people got of the suit was at that insane paddle-in session you and Ian Walsh had at Peahi (Jaws) in March, when you pulled in to a huge barrel. The lip closed down on you, and you inflated the vest underwater. Do you think you would’ve pulled in if you hadn’t have been wearing the suit?

Well, if I caught that wave I was going to pull in no matter what. Where I was positioned on that wave, I couldn’t have made it to the channel without pulling in. It was either go straight down and get blown up for sure, or pull in and probably get blown up. So that choice was basically already made for me when I stood up.

But that’s not why the idea came to me in the first place; it had nothing to do with enhancing performance, or giving anyone more confidence. It’s purely to make things safer and save lives. But to be honest, I’d already done some testing with the suit, and it definitely added to my confidence that day. But it’s definitely not to the point of like, ‘I’m going on this wave no matter what, because I’m going to come up no matter what.’ It’s meant to make it harder to be held under for two waves, and an added measure of safety. Again, it’s not meant to take the place of experience, ability, and common sense.

The most obvious use seems like it would be at deep-water breaks like Peahi and Mavs. Do you plan to wear it at a shallow reef like Shipsterns or Teahupo’o?

I would definitely wear it at Teahupo’o, for sure. At a place like that the wave is probably not going to drown you, or there’s a lesser chance because it’s so shallow, but there’s a really good chance of hitting the reef hard, and possibly dying from hitting the reef so hard. If you’re able to get the thing inflated quick enough, I imagine it would help to keep you farther away from the reef.

Falling on a big wave at Teahupo’o, you’re almost guaranteed to hit the reef. At Teahupo’o you get pounded uphill, because it goes from super deep water to super shallow. If you have an inflated air bladder it would help you stay closer to the surface.

Do you feel like it’s pretty well tested at this point?

No, we’re still in a testing phase, there’s no doubt about that. I’m the only one who’s had a suit; no one else has tested it yet but me. That’s part of the reason we want to get it out to a lot of the guys, so there’s more feedback coming in to refine it and make it safer and better.

I’ve only pulled it on three wipeouts. I’ve tested it a lot in flat water, in non-surfing situations. But in big waves, I’ve only pulled it three times, so it hasn’t been tested enough. But just like any other product that makes things safer, the more testing the better.

One thing I want to say is that in the press release it was called an invention. But this isn’t something I feel like I invented. It’s technology that was already in place. Similar things are out there, like this thing backcountry snowboarders and skiers use that in an avalanche will pull you to the top. I didn’t know about that until about a month ago. And there’s another one for freedivers that I’ve seen that’s a little thing on their belt. So, I don’t think of it as an invention, I think of it as an innovation that’s new to surfing and a different application. I don’t want people to think that I think that I invented something.

On a technical note, the bladder is inside the wetsuit, so it’s not something you can put on a regular suit, right?

No, you can’t. But I’m going to have some prototypes made of a vest that could possibly go over a wetsuit, or even something you could wear by itself if you were someplace in Hawaii just wearing trunks. It would make it super simple and easier. But I’m not sure there’s enough room for the stuff you need in there to modify a vest. As it stands now, it’s a modified wetsuit that has to be customized for the flotation device.

Futures Fins releases Rob Machado Fin June 06 2011

Rob Machado's fin features a torsional flex pattern

Surfersvillage Global Surf News
, 1 June, 2011 : - - After nearly 10 years of riding the Futures system, Rob Machado has signed off on his first ever signature fin.  The collaboration between Rob and Futures is the perfect blend of cutting edge hydrodynamics and environmental sustainability. Rob’s fin features a torsional flex pattern, thanks to Futures’ V2 foil and a layer of strategically placed carbon fiber. 

Combined with renewable, fast growing bamboo, the fin is both light and lively. Designed for Rob’s explosive style, the bamboo carbon matrix stores potential energy and releases it as a burst of kinetic speed. Rob had been riding the V2 AM1 BlackStix for years, he said, “I knew that was a good starting point for me in designing a fin. I just really liked the flex that the BlackStix had. I don’t know exactly what it does but it feels good. I am more of a feel kind of person, you know… sometimes it just feels good.”

“We have been lucky to work with Rob and we are proud of how this fin turned out,” says Head Designer and Founder Vince Longo. Rob’s fin is made of a high quality epoxy resin, instead of polyester.  Not only is epoxy resin stiffer, lighter and better performing, it is also more resilient and releases less VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).

The Rob Machado Signature Fin represents a step forward in decreasing the environmental impact of the resin transfer process, while remaining Strongest, Lightest, Fastest.   


Congrats Spyder on Oakley Shop Challenge Win June 05 2011


As head-high waves rolled through Newport Beach’s 56th street, a mix of surf shop employees and pros slugged it out in one of the closest Oakley Surf Shop Challenge events ever. By event’s end, it was the Zaun brothers of Spyder Surf who led their team to victory at this year’s Oakley Surf Shop Challenge Western regional event.

In the first round, the nine teams comprised of four surfers—two shop employees and two pros—wasted no time in making work of 56th street’s punchy beachbreak. At the front of the game stood Val Surf’s whammy surfer, Dillion Perrilo, who he received a 9.03 for a giant slob-grab.

“I saw the end section and thought I’d try an air-reverse, but then as I got closer I decided to play it safe,” said Perillo. Safe was understatement, and since Dillion was Val Surf’s “whammy surfer,” the judges doubled his score to give Val Surf a birth into the final.

As the 2010 Western regional champions, Jacks Surfboards stood in strong contention to repeat last year’s success after Clay Crandal posted a 5.93 for two backside turns. But moments before Clay’s wave, Spyder Surf’s whammy surfer Dane Zaun ripped into a mid-size left all the way to the beach to earn a 6.0 and give Sypder surf an early lead in the Finals.

Following Zaun’s rhythm was Spyder’s two shop employees, Dickie O’Reily and Chris Broman. After O’Reily posted a score of a 4.13, Broman used his smooth and effortless style to net a score of a 4.53 and force his competitors to lock in a good score. However, Katin Surf Shop’s Ryan Carlson did just that. After nearly pulling a backside air-reverse on his first wave, Carlson stuck with his strong aerial prowess and soared high into the summer air to earn an 8.17 and give Katin the advantage.

With the hopes of a Western regional title lying on the shoulders of Spyder’s youngest surfer, Kelly Zaun took to the water. After patiently waiting, Kelly used his powerful rail-to-rail surfing on one of the heats better rights and was rewarded with a solid 6.77. With this ride, Spyder now had the ball back in their court and could nearly taste the event’s win.

But as time dwindled down, Katin’s whammy surfer, Teddy Navarro, posted a 5.97 that put Katin back within reach of taking top-honors. In the dying moments of the heat, needing a score in the high-four range, Katin’s Drew executed a layback snap on an inside section that would fall just short, and give Spyder Surf Shop the Western regional title.

“I wasn’t going to go because there was a three-wave set, but luckily I went and was able to do one good turn and a layback on the end section,” said Spyder Surf’s Kelly Zaun. “We’ve been doing this contest for five years now and have never won, so to finally win is awesome.”