Apr 25 2008

Misery Loves Company

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Shortly after wrecking myself in a stupid little shorey, I was sharing the pain with a few friends at the pub. As we all tried to top the others’ tales, it struck me that pretty much everyone I know has at least one story of a wounding in the waves. So, inspired to collect a few, I posted the following in RealSurf’s news section (responses appear below):

What is the most legendary surf injury you or one of your close mates has ever copped?

Here’s one of my favourites…

Way back in the early 70’s, a mate of mine from New Zealand made his first ever overseas surf trip. California’s not the most exotic destination, but like surfers around the world, he could reel off all the famous names… The Ranch, Huntington Pier, the ‘bu, Blacks, Trestles, the Lane and above all, Rincon.

So here’s the picture: it’s a perfect winter’s day in Southern California. Clear blue skies, mild temps, no wind and flawless head high NW swell wrapping into the Queen of the Coast. My mate Tom and a couple of my friends pull up at the parking lot and through the trees they can see it is going off. The Kiwi is beside himself with excitement. He’s fairly hopping around as he pulls on the wettie and in his distracted state, doesn’t notice the kerbing.

A moment later he’s on the ground, holding his arm and grimacing with pain. It’s bad, but he thinks it might still be do-able. So, carrying his board under the good arm, he and my pals make their way down to the point. His dream of surfing one of the world’s great waves on a very, very good day is about to come true.

But, by the time they’re standing in the treacherous rock field that is Rincon at low tide, Tom’s arm is really, really hurting. With those perfect waves reeling down the point, they have to turn back and it’s off to the hospital.

The arm is broken and he’s going to spend the rest of his trip with a sling around his neck.

Pretty ordinary eh?

My situation isn’t quite as spectacularly awful (I hope!), but it’s still a contender. On Thursday morning, after surfing the point at Dee Why, I was paddling in and was maybe 50 metres off the beach. Weirdly, I was trying to be careful and looking to prone in on a little one. I’d just turned around to look over my shoulder when I realised a waist high wave was almost on me, so I sort of came off the board and gave it a little shove away. Suddenly I was being pitched and an instant later was slammed into sand that felt like concrete. I saw stars and when I came up, realised that I had been in knee deep water. I took the main impact on my shoulder.

It’s still too early to say how long I’ll be sidelined, but I’m guessing we’re talking weeks – at least. Aside from having to miss my absolute favourite time of year for waves, I also managed to prang myself the day after my mate Guy arrived from the states for our 15th biannual surfari. Looks as though I’ll be the photographer. Gloom.

When I mentioned my wounding in yesterday’s report, a kind fellow-sufferer emailed to commiserate and share his own wretched experience. He did a foot in tiny mushburger conditions. Of course he’s immobilised and the killer is that he’s messed himself up the week before he’s due to head out to the Maldives!!!

Yesterday evening, the Goat, my pal Guy and I caught up for dinner and naturally enough the topic of injuries came up. We all had stories of varying degrees of awfulness and I think it’s fair to say we took a sort of grim pleasure in the retailing of injuries past and present.

All of this set me thinking.

I reckon there are some amazing stories out there that just want to be told.

So, here’s a simple challenge for you.

Sit down and write me an email about your own tale of woe – or if you’ve been lucky, about the worst pranging that’s happened to a friend.

I will then compile these and publish them on RealSurf for the amusement and consolation of all.

Copy and paste the following into the top of your story and then fill in the details

Who: (first names or nicknames are fine)
Where: (surf break name)
Surf conditions: (eg, overhead and breaking hard, gutless and knee high, etc)

Your story goes here.

And here’s the email address to send your stories to:

[email protected]

And here are some of the responses that came in…

What friends are for

Who: Wid (me) with mate ‘Ram’
When: 10 + ? years ago – I was a novice – my mate Ram was (and still is
J) my guru
Where: between No-mans to Long Reef
Surf conditions: beautiful – glorious early morning, glassy, off-shore wind, 1 to 1+1/2 overhead – peeling, but critical …

OK this is a wee while ago, but its burned on my hard drive, never to be erased !

I was a late starter (surfing that is!) – came to Northern Beaches from UK @ 29 – met a guy at my new job – Ram, hard-core Welsh Surfer from way back (he was surfing in Indo when I was still in school !) – His passion for surfing above all things persuaded me to have a go – and I was immediately hooked J

At the time of this incident I was still really getting to grips with bottom turns, … but what I lacked in experience I made up for in enthusiasm !! – and so this particular morning I was happily paddling into horrible close outs while Ram was casually picking off some sweet rides !

Of course all good things come to an end …

Having just seen Ram get a great wave, I tried to make another close out, paddling with fierce determination … by the time it started sucking out beneath me I was too far gone – as I made a pathetic attempt to back-off, the board, (a banana shaped Mad Dog – very appropriate! ), fluttered away beneath me and the lip hurled me forward ….

I came down with my right knee and shin smack on the back of the fins … as the tip of the board hit sand – ow !

I knew I’d really hurt my knee but water was pretty cold so felt like a big bang, not really a cut, although around my knee felt funny, kinda numb – so paddled back out to my mate …

“F**k I think I’ve really hurt my knee, can you see ?” I said as I slid off my board and threw my leg over the board knee in the air towards Ram – Ram looked grimly at a 2” wide open gash in my knee saying – “You’d better paddle in and get that looked at – it’s bleeding bad, we don’t want a shark getting a whiff of it … “ and with that turned around to paddle into the next set !

I made my way in (alone !) – struggled to drive to Mona Vale hospital, almost fainting, with a blood soaked towel wrapped around my knee – got 12 stitches in my knee, (cute nurse was a bonus), a nice lie down for a couple of hours, cuppa tea, and was sent home …

What I love most about this story is the conversation with Ram later that day …

“Shit mate – you didn’t tell me it was THAT bad … !! can’t believe you didn’t help me in !?”

The reply … “There was no way I was paddling anywhere near you with all that blood pissing outta your leg … besides there was some great waves still to be had – no point in both of us missing out .. !”

Ram is still one of my best mates – and a great teacher, although some lessons are harder than others – the plus side of this little incident was that I quickly developed a new respect for Huey that has probably saved me from breaking my neck ! 10 years later still love charging big waves !!

Cheers, keep up the great work Don – albeit from outta the water for a while !


*** *** *** *** ***


Who: unknown surfer
When: 1998
Where: S.Aust., Myponga-Point Break
Surf conditions: A wild 6’+ SW winter pumping swell -freezing (water 11degrees) difficult jump/take off the rocks from the point-fairly low tide with exposed reef (eg long pointy rocks similar to ice stallagtites found in caves) so get the picture ….they need to be avoided and timing critical.

I had just come in from a long surf and was resting and trying to regain my body temperature (numbness) while watching the swell and this non local try to negotiate the jump off.

He looked confused and hesitant but finally jumped and appeared to have mistimed it and connected with the rocks, then was swept with his board into the shore break and appeared distressed.

With good reason, a few guys went to his aid and also looked lost as to how to assist.

He had landed directly on one of those sharp rocks foot first,which had speared and cut open the entire sole of his foot- from heal to toe-looked shocking like a pastie that had just been split wide open flopping around with no support and raw red meat just hanging out….

Luckily there was a male nurse present who saved the day but heard later the victim spend weeks in hospital as the wound had to be wedged open and scraped daily to avoid infection

*** *** *** *** ***

Homemade square-tail

This happened at Burleigh Heads beachbreak a few years ago. Now I’m now living in Sydney.

The tide was dead low and little two footers were dredging onto an outside sand bank on the beachie, about 500 metres down the beach from the point.

I caught a little two footer, which pitched and dredged out before I could get on the wave.

Feeling myself being sucked over, I flicked the board forward and dove off the back of the wave.

Instead of things going to plan, the nose of the board hit the sand bank and I was sucked back over the top onto the fins, bum first.

I felt a “thwack” near my left buttock, and could feel a lump in my leg (was wearing a springsuit).

Leg felt numb and I promptly signalled to my mate to head in.

On inspection on the beach, I had rammed the fin in my arse just to the left of my anus, and when I had rotated to jump away, had managed to partially pull my left cheek inside out.

Ended up with multiple internal and external stitches, and everytime I went to the Hospital or my local doctor to get the dressing changed (had a small infection in there) the nurses / doctors all seemed to find the site of my hairy infected bottom rather amusing.

I now have a square left bum cheek, and a nice little scar that aches in winter….

Rob Murray

*** *** *** *** ***

A very close call…

Who: Graham
When: Friday 18/4/2008
Where: Pavilion at Palmy

Surf conditions: Narly o’head

I am a local Avalon resident and have been surfing for about 40 years. I surf regularly with a small group of guys. We call ourselves the dawn patrol, always watching the sun come up over the water on one of the northern beaches. (usually palmy).

On Friday 18/4/08, at 6.30am I was surfing off the pavilion at Palm beach. The surf was big as you may be aware that morning. I took a very bad wipe out, coming off the lip in a re-entry move and was back slammed to the bottom of the wave. I floated to the surface paralyzed. (Later in hospital, I was informed that I had given my spinal cord a major trauma.)
Anyway when I floated to the surface I had no feeling in my arms or legs and in my mind I thought,,,,, well here goes…. I’m going to drown…. Thankfully my good friend came along on about the 3rd or 4th wave after me. He managed to drag me to shore and raise the alarm to several other guys who, together carried me up the sand and laid me down. Thankfully my body recovered and the feeling came back to my arms and legs after some time.
Samo was the guy who made it possible for me to be here today and I would like if possible the story told of his efforts. Not only in this instance but may others. These are days when surf rage is still simmering under the surface at most beaches, but in parallel, camaraderie amongst surfers is alive and well. Looking out for your mates in a true ANZAC tradition.
From the beach, I had a ride in an ambulance to Mona Vale and a day with the staff in emergency wearing a neck brace and being provided comfort and tests to ensure I made no sudden move that would make me a rag doll for the rest of my life. Good professional people. We have such a community spirit and are so lucky.
Grant is a man who deserves accolades, known by most in surfers in the area and a true friend to many.
I was paralyzed and drowning, Friday morning, but now I have another chance to see the sun rise over the water as a member of one of the dawn surf patrols again.
*** *** *** *** ***

Harsh, very harsh

Who: Me, Corey
When:4 yrs ago
Where: The Wedge
Surf conditions: Head high, onshore toilet bowl

It was with great excitement that I picked up my brand spanking new custom DHD stick. I’d gone the whole hog even ordering carbon fiber fins to go with it.

Naturally, I wanted to get out there, straight away regardless of the conditions. This hunger to rip it up on the new super board soon brought me standing in the rain on the rocks by The Wedge at Whale Beach anxiously awaiting my turn to make the quick jump out the back. An older gentleman, whom I was standing next to and I winced as we watched a fellow surfer get dragged across the barnacle encrusted platform by half a foot of white water, a foot slashing experience that happened to me only a month or so before.

“you’ve really gotta be careful here it can be a lot trickier than it looks”, I said with a knowing shake of the head. It was this moment I decided to go, picking my way quickly over the prickly shelf with its little hidden valleys, I made it to the jump off spot, timed perfectly with the oncoming swell I leapt off the edge, my graceful dive was cut short when in mid air my board decided it didn’t want to come with me and, ripped from my hands flew back between my feet. In an instant I was underwater, the swell quickly passed over me leaving me hanging upside down on a vertical piece of rock, my legrope wrapped around a cungi, desperately I reached for the velcro around my ankle, my board flapping uselessly in the air.

It was here time slowed, I had gone from bliss to near death in a second, I turned my head to see 3 foot of whitewater heading straight at me and there was nothing I could do. The wave smashed me into the rock wall instantly snapping my legrope, rolling me arse over tit through the rocks like a bloody pinball machine. To my surprise I washed up alive on the sand, cuts all over me and in a world of pain and humiliation and there she was my beautiful unridden board washed up on the rocks. Covered in blood, I picked my way over the rocks. Totally written off, two fins ripped clean out of the board, plug included, a huge dinner plate size depression on the bottom and numerous dings.

My shattered board, body and ego made our way back to the car in a world of pain and humiliation. The board was never any good. I needed a few stitches in my hand and I still have a huge haematoma lump on the small of my back where i was slammed into the rocks.

To this day I take the rip that runs along the rocks at the wedge out the back.

*** *** *** *** ***

Oh well, that’s alright then…

My mate brendo was surfing at north culy when he came of the board and copped a fin across his right eye. He staggered like a blind man through the surf with blood pouring down his face, the surf lifesavers ran in to guide him to shore.

I got a phone call from my flatmate who was surfing with him at the time saying to come and pick up Brendo ‘he’s lost his eye!’

I thought to myself call an ambulance… not me! I rushed down there and Brendo was being wheeled into the back of the ambo. I asked home how he was, and in typical Brendo style he said ‘sweet mate’, while not knowing if he would ever have vision again.

It turns out he cut his top eye lid in half, right down the middle, they stitched it back together and after 2 days in
hospital thinking he might go blind he is now sweet as, and goes by the nickname ‘curtains’

*** *** *** *** ***

Do you have a story to contribute? If so, why not just follow the instructions that began this collection and send your tale of woe to me. Once I get enough of them for another page, I’ll add it to this collection!


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