This Is Home, Part 1: Dusty Payne

SURFING Magazine

A local look into the influence between home and hero.

Dusty Intro
Photo: Brent Bielmann


Maui, HI


Kai Barger, 25. – 2009 World Junior champion. Star of Attractive Distractions. Standout at Jaws.

Granger Larsen, 25. – Former SURFING coverboy. Six-time NSSA national champion. Standout at Honolua Bay.

Albee Layer, 23. – Landed surfing’s first double alley oop. Produced/starred in Attractive Distractions. At the forefront of tube riding at Jaws.

Tai Van Dyke, 41. – Maui’s most powerful surfer. Volcom’s Pipeline house manager. Budding professional surf photographer.

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Photo: Brent Bielmann
Photo: Brent Bielmann


Photo: Brent Bielmann
Photo: Brent Bielmann
brent bielmann473
Photo: Brent Bielmann


Kai Barger: It’s all about perspective. You can say that he’s jaded being on Maui, or that it helped him because of the criticism. We get criticized at home from the older guys sometimes, but it’s all just a joke — a big test for us to be able to handle our stardom in a way. The people that live on Maui don’t want to see us become a pro surfer and forget who we are or where we came from. In that respect, the older boys will make fun of us and rip us apart but it’s our job to just take it and realize that they’re just putting us in our place. On the other hand, growing up on Maui and surfing, we had a pretty tight knit crew of groms and for the first ten years of our lives, we were pushing each other and surfing together and I think that helped a lot. Some of the best surfers in the world came out of that.
Granger Larsen: You have to have a good head on your shoulders growing up in Hawaii in general, not just Maui. There are definitely people that claim Maui is kind of a dead-end for surfers, but I think it’s definitely a lot different nowadays, especially our generation. I feel like we were the first generation to put surfing on the map over here. I think it’s a lot different than what it used to be. There are definitely guys that I still look up to that are older and ripping as hard as ever like Kaimana Henry and Tai Van Dyke, but our generation is the first to put Maui on the map contests-wise.
Albee Layer: I think Maui helps you because when Dusty’s home, he’s calling Granger Larsen or Kai Barger to surf so he’s always got really good guys pushing him in the water. He never gets to be lazy. It can hurt your career, maybe, because it can be too laid back, too relaxing, so it’s easy not to care about what’s happening outside the island.




Albee Layer: Dusty was the first guy to make the ‘CT from Maui and that by far is his biggest impact on the kids. I don’t do contests, but of a sudden I was even like, “Oh, wow, it is possible. What’s going on here is comparable to a world scale,” you know? Sometimes, since we’re so far away and the island’s so small, it’s hard to compare what’s happening here to other places, so you almost assume the surfing happening in other places is better. But when Dusty made the ‘CT it was like, “Oh, he’s just as good as other surfers in the world and we surf with him all the time.” It’s like we finally had someone to compare ourselves to who was compared to the best surfers in the world.

Kai Barger: Kids probably look up to him the most on Maui. He is a good role model and as long as I’ve ever known him he’s been really focused. He’s had his eyes on the prize the whole time. I think kids do look up to him as a success story — something they can base themselves off of and imagine doing what he did. And he did it the right way; he didn’t take any short cuts, he put in hard work, and he stayed focused.
Tai Van Dyke: Dusty’s impacted Maui in a huge way. For the groms to see someone finally step up and make the tour — that’s big. You couldn’t ask for a stronger example.

Photo: Brent Bielmann


Photo: Brent Bielmann
Photo: Brent Bielmann


Albee Layer: Maui supports Dusty 100 percent. He’s still our only guy ever on the ‘CT, so he gets that support. For example, that last heat at Snapper, when Dusty got that wave that was a 9-point something, you couldn’t really go out to a session without everybody talking about it. Everyone was psyching. It’s always in the conversation.
Kai Barger: Everyone on Maui secretly watches his heats and we’re all there to support him, we’re just not doing it in a really big way. Like, we’re not trying to make a statement by being his fans or showing it off to anyone. I mean, we’re screaming in our houses for him, but we’re not getting together somewhere and wearing jerseys and making signs and stuff. We probably should though, ya know; he’s our guy. [laughs] Our hometown hero.


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Photo: Brent Bielmann


Albee Layer: It’s a little bit of both. A lot of our waves are, well, kinda shitty [laughs]. A lot of them are air-waves that most people wouldn’t surf anyways. They’re just waves that we like. But there’s a few that don’t get shot because people would get pissed. Even when they do get good, it’s rare that you can plan for it, so places don’t get blown out that hard over here because of someone like Dusty shooting there.
Granger Larsen: There’s certain spots where people can get kind of weird. But I feel like Maui and Oahu are some of the only spots where we can work at home, which is pretty cool for us, career-wise. There’s definitely certain spots that people can’t shoot, which is cool too. I feel like we’re pretty lucky that there’s no one regulating it too hard, as far as shooting. It’s already pretty exposed.
Tai Van Dyke: You know, it is what it is. We’ve been shooting on Maui for years, and Dusty grew up there, so if he wants to film his spots, it’s all good. The waves take care of themselves, really. Honolua Bay is no secret, and, sure, it is cool how guys protect their spots, but Dusty can film and surf anywhere on Maui, he’s been surfing there his whole life.

Photo: Brent Bielmann


Photo: Brent Bielmann
Photo: Brent Bielmann


Albee Layer: Every time Dusty talks to a girl is pretty funny [laughs]. He has all of two questions to ask a girl: Hey, do you like country [music]? Do you watch football? And if they say “no” to both, the conversation gets really awkward and slows down pretty quickly.
Kai Barger: One time when we were kids I was paddling out at Hookipa and I was about halfway out when a turd flew over my head. I looked back and Dusty’s like 15-feet behind me laughing his ass off. Apparently, he had shit on the beach, grabbed it and paddled out a fair ways before throwing it at me. We were, like, 12 then.
Tai Van Dyke: Just to see his comeback, how he refocused after his injuries and just shit on everybody in the contests last year [the Primes at Sunset and Haleiwa]. That was crazy. He just changed his whole outlook and came alive again.

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Photo: Brent Bielmann