At first glance Shawn Dollar might not strike you as someone that hurls themselves down a 55’ foot wave. Let alone in the middle of the 2009-2010 Mavericks contest that held some of the biggest waves ever for a paddle in competition. Dollar represents Santa Cruz in solid form, born on the Westside he moved to the Eastside when he was 8 and started junior guards where he fell in love with surfing. The first days of surfing for Shawn were weekends with his dad being pushed into waves at Cowell Beach and surfing different reefs and beach breaks as he progressed. Fast forward to Shawn attending Cal Poly and searching out the highly coveted Central California big wave spots alone defining his big wave surfing.
The first opportunity for Mavericks came 4 years ago when Dollar was a board caddy for Kenny “Skindog” Collins during the 2006 Mavericks contest. His first wave he dropped into a 40 footer, right then Shawn had put himself on the map. His brush with the XXL awards would come just 2 short years later when he was passed over for biggest paddle in wave of the year. When asked about training, he kind of chuckles about running and surfing as much as possible but the interesting thing was the comments on visualizing the waves he rides.
Obviously our conversation went back to the wave, the 55 foot Guinness Book of World Records/Billabong XXL winner biggest paddle in ever wave. Once again Dollar was Skindog’s board caddy in the massive 50 foot surf this last year, when a break in between heats allowed the chance to catch a wave just like he had 4 years prior. First hand from Dollar “there were some big sets we had all paddled over, I had seen rogue waves on days like this breaking on one of the outer reefs when we would tow and I felt like there would be a day we could paddle into one of these monsters. About the 5th or 6th wave of the set I saw my wave; it was big, one of the biggest of the day. I thought for a second I might be too deep then I realized if I had a chance to catch this wave I had to stay in the bowl. I put my head down and paddled with everything I had, the drop seemed like forever all I could think was don’t stick, keep the nose up and as I came to the bottom of the wave I could see the whole wave stand up and I knew I was in for a beating, but I had just caught the wave of my life.”
Winning the Billabong XXL Award for Biggest Paddle In Wave was the furthest thing from Dollar’s mind until Peter Mel called the next morning and spelled it out “You just paddled into the biggest wave in human history, biggest wave ever paddled into.” Guinness Book of World Records has the submission but the coolest part is the fact the wave IS a world record, only surfers Greg Knoll, Taylor Knox hold similar records and to be the next one Shawn states “that’s an honor”. While he has other things that matter in life, he would entertain the big wave contest circuit if the time is right, but his business of action sports companies is where he is grounded. Shawn’s day job is representing Von Zipper Sunglasses, Xcel Wetsuits, Reef Sandals, FCS and JS Surfboards for Northern California.
One thing is certain with Shawn Dollar, this new face of big wave surfing has once again been established from the town of Santa Cruz California…
“I am just livin in the moment…and surfing.” ~Shawn Dollar
Photo Credit Tyler Fox http://www.santacruzwaves.com
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