Dusty Payne accidentally qualified for the World Tour

by stab March 08, 2016 5 min read

As far as being a pro surfer goes, the past 12 months have not been ideal for Dusty Payne. Dusty’s one of those gents who, for whatever reason, is plagued by injury. He undoubtedly belongs on the world tour, and should be a constant threat, but competition is a wild beast and occasional showings of your true skill aren’t enough – you’ve gotta bring the heat, all the time. A big percentage of that challenge is mental, and Dusty is just now landing in a headspace that could see him stay where he needs to be. He just won the Reef Hawaiian Pro, finished runner up at the Vans World Cup of Surfing, and now, with a spot in the Pipe Masters, is looking like danger to win the Triple Crown. Stab found Dusty in the Volcom house wearing a post-Sunset glow, to talk about where he’s been, where he’s at, and where he’s going.

Interview by Lucas Townsend | Photos by Tom Carey

Stab: Is it safe to say that you just accidentally qualified for tour next year?
Dusty: Yeah. I didn’t plan on qualifying, that’s f’sure. But I guess it’s the best way you could ever do it. I didn’t put any pressure on myself saying, Oh I have to make it this heat, or that heat, to qualify. I just went and surfed.

Was it on your mind after winning Haleiwa? Well, yeah, I thought I was pretty close, I was at 24th. But, I knew there were so many guys who were right there to qualifying and I thought they’d put it out of reach for me. At the end of the day I wasn’t gonna be disappointed if it didn’t happen.

And the pressure paddling out in that quarterfinal, knowing one more heat meant requalification? Man, I didn’t even know. I thought I had to win the contest. I got to the final and I wanted to win to have a shot at the Triple Crown, going into Pipe. I still didn’t even know until after the presentation. A lady from the ASP told me that I made it and I was like, “What? You’re kidding me?!” I just screamed like a little kid. I was so stoked.

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Hi kids, do you like violence? Wanna see Dusty stick 6’0″ nails into Off The Wall’s eyelids?

This day, 12 months ago, what was Dusty like? Oh man, I was in such a dark place last year. I’d never have imagined myself being here, and if you told me I wouldn’t have accepted it. It’s such a big thing and you’ve really got to appreciate it. I don’t think I appreciated it then, but going through the year, everything that I’ve gone through, it’s the sweetest thing that’s ever happened.

I imagine the injury was the low point? Yeah, it was during the South Africa prime event. I flew to South Africa straight after a trip I did with Julian to Lakey Peak, then I was in the country for a day, hurt myself, flew to California and had knee surgery. But it made me realise how quickly it can all be taken away. I’d gone through injuries before but I’d never had surgery and it kind of woke me up. I came out thinking, okay I’ve got to get better, get right, and take advantage of the talents I have.

Last year, what was wrong? I wasn’t enjoying it. I was going out doing it because that’s what I was suppose to do. That’s not how it should be, you know. I got into surfing because I loved it, not because it’s a job. From the first time I stood up on a wave, I can remember thinking to myself, it’s just the coolest feeling in the world sliding across the ocean. That excitement, that’s why I love it and I just didn’t have that last year.

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Staying at the Volcom house has its advantages. During the most crowded time of the year, you can sit and wait til everyone goes for lunch (surfers are creatures of habit and Hawaii’s a real rhythmic place), and get a sesh out front to yourself.

Did you have a problem with your attitude? Yeah, it was not very good. It wasn’t very positive. It sucks to think about it but it’s brought me a long way. At one point earlier this year I was so low if I’d stayed there I wasn’t able to do primes next year. That was a goal going into Haleiwa. I needed to make up some ground so I could compete next year. And I was speaking with Bemmy (Matt Bemrose, Volcom team manager) yesterday and said, I would’ve saved a bunch of money if I’d stayed home this year. A lot of changed flights and leaving events early.

What’s going to be different next year? I’m going to enjoy it, the ups and the downs. Whatever comes my way, take it with a grain of salt. Because there’ll be a tonnes of downs, a few ups, it’s one of the toughest sports to compete in in the world.

Why’s that? Because you’re not dealing with a constant. Mother Nature is always changing and you have to rely on her to help you.

What do you think will be the biggest shock next year? The event sites look a lot bigger. There’s such a great group of guys on tour these days and all the young generation guys are so good. It’s exciting to see where surfing’s going. Before, you’d have those heats where you thought, uh, okay I’m gonna go get some lunch now. Whereas now, you can’t even leave your TV for a second, otherwise you’ll miss something. It’s so hard. Every heat you’re going to need 19 points just to make it to the second round.

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Watching Dusty do his thing in Hawaii aka his zone is a real treat.

Pipe begins tomorrow and you don’t have to surf in the trials.They told me just after the semi at Sunset that I was in the main event, I couldn’t believe it! I was like a kid in a candy store, I was so excited. The forecast is huge. I mean, I don’t read the computer, my Dad is on it every day checking wind directions and stuff, he’s my guy. But from what I keep hearing it’s going to be massive. I’m pretty nervous, but really excited.

Does a triple Crown mean more to you than others because you’re Hawaiian? Yes. F’sure. I came pretty close when I was 19 and Joel just ripped it out of my hands and stomped me. We had a heat at Pipe and whoever made the heat in the third round won the Triple Crown. Parko went and dropped like two tens on my head and said see you later. If I could pull it off this year it’d be so sweet, after everything I’ve gone through.

And the beard. Explain. Well now I can’t shave. Zeke Lau and I started growing them and whoever shaves first has to buy dinner. I’m inviting everyone on the North Shore to dinner if he shaves. It’s two and half months old now. I watched a lot of baseball and the Red Socks guys all grew their beards out during Spring training. They started doing so well that year that nobody was allowed to shaved their beard until the season was over and they ended up winning the series. Yeah, I’m gonna grow this thing out.

Kai Borg enters:

Dusty! Be yourself… You know why? Because everyone else is taken.

Nobody has a beard like this…

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Beardo in da barrel!

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