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Considering how much progression and innovation has been sparked by tow surfing in recent history, it’s a bit of a surprise that Shane Dorian — one of the big wave game’s most prominent figures — has stuck strictly to paddling for a full decade now.

Ironically enough, one could argue Dorian is heavily responsible for his own bit of progression by introducing inflatable safety vests, which has its own major role today in giving athletes a level of security that’s pushed the boundaries in big waves.

Nonetheless, for the Hawaiian to grab a tow rope you’d imagine there would have to be some kind of special incentive. Whatever that is will apparently be one of the elements explored in two-time Emmy winning director Paul Taublieb’s hour-long feature for the experimental Monster Energy Big Wave Tow-in Invitational. The feature documents a day on the North Shore with Dorian, Makua Rothman, Billy Kemper, Kai Lenny, and Nathan Florence jumping into an expression session-like invitational event.


“On certain days, when it’s too big or too rough to paddle, tow-in definitely has its place in our world,” Dorian said. “It’s not exactly surfing – it’s almost a different sport, but it was a blast.” For Dorian, towing in was about taking part in an exercise in progression.

“We are not trying to replace paddle-in surfing but push the boundaries of big wave progression in a way that hasn’t been explored,” said Taublieb, who directed the Emmy-winning ESPN 30 for 30 film Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau and says that his goal with the feature is to provide a platform for “the sport’s next evolution.”


“Tow-in starts when it’s not right to paddle in. The Monster Invitational is an experiment in some solid, big surf to explore the limits of performance – and having fun,” added Rothman.

The hour-long feature will air on ABC television on Saturday, May 18, 2019 as part of World of X Games at 2:00 p.m. EST, 1:00 p.m. PST and 10:00 a.m. HST.


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