There was a time in surfing (and this wasn’t long ago) before there were surf team managers,“handlers,” full-time video guys, webcasts, board caddies, managers or agents. And during this time, surfers still managed to travel the globe together, renting cars and houses, making food on their own, living the dream abroad. During that time they competed in contests (which very few people saw) and scored the best waves and times of their lives. They also managed to put out some damn fine surf cinema between as well if our memory serves us correct (thanks Taylor). This “rogue” lifestyle was life on tour in 1994. We got nostalgic one day and wanted to know what it was like to be a youth, on the run, in France, say 1994. So, we called our hero and as
Here, Shane takes us back. (Look for the full interview in What Youth Issue 3, on sale now in the shop.)
Shane Dorian: That was when I was competing full time on the tour, basically the whole early ‘90s and mid-‘90s. We were always in Europe in the fall, pretty similar to what it’s like now except we had three big events in France. First we’d go to Lacanau, then we’d have one event in Hossegor and one event in Anglet. But we’d usually just stay in Hossegor.
There’s these massive pine forests all along the coast there, and then a couple little towns in between. Hossegor was where the best sandbars usually were, and that’s where all the people usually stayed. There were also a couple really good bars there — and then, you know, obviously hundreds of beautiful French women all over the place as well.
There were no team managers or coaches or anything like that. It was me, Kelly, Ross Williams, Pat O’Connell…I think Rob [Machado] was with us a bunch of times. So we’d usually just get one rental car and all stay there at Maritxu’s[Quiksilver France employee, friend] house , or if we had too many people we’d get another car. But yeah, it was very simple, you know?
We had a full kitchen. We’d make food every single day and every night. There were a lot of insane restaurants around there too, really neat, the kind of places where you could only — you’d only be able to go eat if you were good friends with local people. Maritxu’s just one of those French women who, like — she’s been in that area forever, so she knew all the cool little hotspots, off the beaten track, all the neat little restaurants, all the local places we’d go all the time.
We would surf the events and then everyone would leave, and most of the time Kelly and I would stay on for another couple weeks into the very end of September and hang out, and just surf in Hossegor for a couple weeks every year. And we got mind-blowing waves every single year. I remember a couple different sessions that were probably in the top 10 sessions of our lives for both of us.
There was one day when La Graviere was really, really good, and it was really good in the morning — this was after the whole tour had left — it was really good in the morning only for about an hour, and then the wind came up, like a strong onshore wind. But it was like six to eight feet, so it was way too big to surf onshore.
In those days Maurice Cole lived in France. He was like the Matt Biolos of France, so anytime anyone went to France they had a whole quiver of Maurice Coles waiting for them when they got there. Kelly and I always had a fresh stack of Maurice Coles every year when we’d go to France. He had a knack for knowing what type of boards to make for France.
So everyone bailed, everyone who was out bailed, and we went back to Maurice Cole’s house, which was like a one-minute drive from there. We were just sitting there having lunch at Maurice ‘s house — his wife had made us a really killer lunch — and it was just Kelly and me. And we were just rapping out with Maurice, talking shit, watching TV and stuff. And Maurice had this flag — it was like an Aussie flag or something, off his deck — and so we could tell the wind was still the same direction.
And we were sitting there for a few hours and I kept just watching this flag, ‘cause it was super steady onshore, and I just happened to look up — I swear it must have just been within minutes of it switching, but the flag went back the exact opposite direction. I started going full panic mode and Kelly and I just got up and ran, back to our car, and drove right back over the sand dunes and looked. And it was like a joke.
There was not one human on the beach as far as you could see in either direction because it was just howling onshore all day. It was straight offshore, six- to eight-foot A-frames all over the beach and we were the only ones out. There was an unbelievable sandbar there, kind of shifting rights up and down the beach but mainly in one spot. But it was like Backdoor Pipeline. It was just phenomenal.
I haven’t been in years. I always talk to my wife about it — she loves France as well. I would take her all the time back in the day. I really miss it a lot. I really want to go back super bad with my family. Let my kids run around naked.