Skilled but dour regularfoot pro surfer from San Clemente, California, described by Surfing magazine as "the ultimate contest machine"; world-ranked #2 in 1996, and the only pro surfer in history to score a perfect 30 during a heat. Beschen was born (1972) and raised in San Clemente, the son of a general contractor, began surfing at age 10, and was soon a leading light among a neighborhood group of surfers that including Matt Archbold, Dino Andino, and Christian Fletcher.
A rivalry with Kelly Slater of Florida began in 1985, when Beschen finished second to the future world champion in the menehune division (12 and under) of the United States Surfing Championships. The following year Beschen finished second to Slater in the boy's division, and in 1987 Beschen placed fourth in boys' while Slater again won. Beschen capped his amateur career with a second in the juniors division of the 1988 U.S. Championships.
Beschen turned pro at 17, and three years later, without backing from any major sponsors, won the 1992 Professional Surfing Association of America tour; in 1993 he finished 11th on the world tour. Beschen remained in the top 10 for five years, placing fourth in 1994 and 1998, and finishing second to Slater in 1996. Blond and long-limbed (6' 0", 165 pounds), Beschen was a quick, loose, moderately experimental surfer. He rode in a slightly different fashion than the rest of the New School teenagers who came to prominence in the early '90s, holding his arms away from his body, in a way reminiscent of '70s surf hero Michael Ho of Hawaii.
By 1998 Beschen had four world tour victories, including a spectacular win in the 1996 Quiksilver Pro at Grajagan, Indonesia, and a satisfying take-down of Slater in front of 40,000 spectators at the 1994 U.S. Open in Huntington Beach, a victory made all the more impressive by Beschen's decision to not to use a surf leash. At the 1996 Billabong Pro at Kirra, Queensland, Beschen scored 10s on three consecutive waves for a perfect total score of 30.
Beschen was also a world tour loner and malcontent. During a short losing streak in 1998, Beschen complained to a surf journalist that he felt "like a black person in South Africa 50 years ago, and all the judges are white." At the time he was making more than $100,000 a year and owned houses in San Clemente and Oahu; he finished the season ranked #4. The following year he purposely missed contests, was fined $10,000 by world tour organizers, and saw his rating drop to #24. In 2000 he finished 26th; the following year he dropped to 37th and didn't make the cut for the 2002 circuit. Beschen rejoined the tour in 2004 and spent two years languishing at the bottom of the rankings, finishing the 2004 season ranked #38, and the 2005 year ranked #40.
Beschen appeared in more than 25 surf videos, including The Search II (1993), Cyclone Fever (1994), Metaphysical (1997), and The Experience (1999). In 2000 Beschen produced his own surf video, Box of Blues.
Gavin Beschen, Shane's younger brother, also a lanky blond regularfoot, became a minor surf media sensation in the mid-'90s; in 2000 he earned $30,000 for winning the Red Bull Tube Ride contest in Brazil, then followed up a few weeks later with a victory in the Xcel Pro, at Sunset Beach, netting another $4,000. As of 2013, Gavin Beschen was still a highly visable semi-alternative pro.