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18 November, 2015

The Safest Place

My feeble excuse for not posting for so long is that a few months ago I suffered a big blow. Surfing with a mate off the far Northern desert of Western Australia, a thick and pitching lip kind of decapitated my shoulder. Well almost. If you consider a dis-location, torn labrum and over a dozen fractures a decapitation then it sounds more horrific to me. It certainly was the most intense pain I’ve ever suffered. And I’ve had a few.

So camped in the middle of nowhere with no medical assistance for many miles of dirt roads, how did I come to find myself in this awful predicament?

The answer is simple. I was too slow pulling under the lip. The lip axed me. I didn’t even hit the bottom. Just the sheer force of water was my un-doing.

Now, having four months out of the surf has allowed me to contemplate my error, which is well summarized by 70’s Pipeline master Gerry Lopez who once famously said – “the safest place to be is inside the barrel.”

Often these decisions are split second stuff. Be decisive and pull in. Or get off. Or straighten out. But don’t hesitate. Never hesitate. The worst place to be is close to that pitching lip.

Riding in tubes can be scary. But accidents inside the tube are not that common. Mostly they’re caused by the impact of the pitching lip. Just as Australian Justin Holland also recently discovered much further South in WA when the lip landed directly on him broke his femur. Or as big wave maniac Nathan Fletcher recently said: “You don’t know what life’s about until you’ve broken your femur.’

Anyway … it wasn’t like I wasn’t trying.

But nevertheless, the message is clear. Think fast. Think ahead. Pull up high. The safest place to be is inside the barrel.


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