H O L D D OW N

Tracks - - Stuff We Dig -

clocks up months of big tubes, con­test or no con­test, spon­sor or no spon­sor, cam­eras or no cam­eras. "I re­mem­ber times in Hawaii when we were mak­ing A Dingo'sTale and the surf'd be mas­sive and ev­ery­one would be hit­ting Waimea and we'd try to find Deano then you'd hear he gone and pad­dled out at Phan­toms with one other guy. No cam­eras or any­thing just do­ing it for him­self. That's what he's like. He's just go­ing. Do­ing his own thing. What­ever it may be he just wants to ex­pe­ri­ence new things and it doesn't mat­ter if any­one's watch­ing," says Shagga.

Now that he's no longer com­pet­ing Dean prefers to wait un­til the crowds have set­tled down be­fore he wings it across the Pa­cific. Last year he flew in early, ea­ger to see Fan­ning bat­tle it out for the World Ti­tle. But then the swell came up from the West and, well, spec­tat­ing has never been Deano's strong suit. So when his Coolie mate was pad­dling out for the first of his do or die heats in the Pipe Masters, Deano was pad­dling his 10'6" to­wards the hump­ing hori­zon at Jaws.

"I've surfed it four or five times and I'm keen to chase it more," he says of the world's pre­mier gi­ant wave. "I mean you've seen those waves that Do­rian got. For pad­dle-in waves and huge bar­rels – it doesn't get much bet­ter than that place. It's def­i­nitely a spot where you can push yourself and learn a lot about yourself."

In March this year Mor­ri­son had his big­gest pad­dle ses­sion to date at Jaws. He surfed for eight hours straight, paus­ing only to chug wa­ter, chomp en­ergy bars and re­in­flate his vest. It was big, windy and mega crowded and there was car­nage ga­lore. A boat cap­sized, lo­cal surfer Dege O'Con­nell was rushed to hospi­tal, and Do­rian was held down for two waves, amid other calami­ties. At the end of the ses­sion Mor­ri­son learnt more about him­self than he may have liked to.

"I'd been surf­ing for seven hours and it felt like the swell was drop­ping. The crowd had dropped off and we were sit­ting on the in­side when all of a sud­den this thing broke so far out. The first was one was like 20-25 foot and the next one was way big­ger. I've never been caught by a 30-foot wave in my life and it's a whole dif­fer­ent ball game. I came up af­ter it had cleaned us all up and I was the only one who didn't take my leash off. Ev­ery­one was washed in, so I sat out the back by my­self and waited for a big one. When it came I took off a lit­tle too deep and the white wash just en­gulfed me. I was think­ing: 'oh no I'm in it here'. Then my board smacked me in the head so hard and I nearly blacked out. My vi­sion was go­ing and I couldn't make out where I was. I re­mem­ber telling my­self: 'Ok, you've just got worked and there's an­other wave be­hind it'. The next one rag-dolled me re­ally vi­o­lently. Luck­ily there was a ski right there af­ter that to pick me up. I didn't know what was go­ing on at that point."

Ever since he was a kid Dean has re­lied on gifts from the ocean. It's got him through hard times when his fam­ily life was im­plod­ing. It's been his so­lace, his source of joy and in­spi­ra­tion. Surf­ing has been his one and only provider and his ca­reer path. It's pro­vided di­rec­tion and has taught him to face fears that no nor­mal hu­man will come close to and to con­quer those fears. It's no sur­prise that he still sees surf­ing as his job and his iden­tity. Push­ing him­self fur­ther in huge waves is a goal but it's not the only one. "I want to do trips to places that people haven't seen. I want to get bar­relled in pump­ing waves and I want to do an­other movie."

Not so long ago a surfer of Dingo's cal­i­bre wouldn't have had much trou­ble tran­si­tion­ing into the role of a hard-charg­ing freesurfer but to­day's en­dorse­ment mar­ket is much tougher. To make his am­bi­tions come true he will need a backer. But even if that doesn't even­tu­ate you get the feel­ing that he'll al­ways find a way to chase swells and to grow as a surfer. He'll turn up in Indo and Hawaii and WA and go mad when the swell of the year is on. It's who he is. As Rab­bit says, "I used to say years ago that by the time Dean Mor­ri­son's 40 years of age he'll have rid­den more bar­rels than any­one in the his­tory of the world. And I think that pre­dic­tions on track."

Joli

Atkin­son is ready

By both his pro surf­ing peers and the as­tute Hawai­ian ob­servers, Dean is recog­nised as one of the best in the world at Back­door.||

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