Surfing, as we all know, was started by the ingenious Polynesians, who figured out how to ride waves. But surfboards were still huge and bulky, and it took many generations to finally perfect (or is it?) the shape that we know and love today. The polyeurethane board with a foam core, moderate rocker, and those things that poke out the bottom called…
… Fins! Yes, they let you turn. Yes, without them, surfing as we know it would not be possible, but even though they were the best innovation to the surfboard design (thank you Tom Blake!), one could not escape the inevitable truth: That when combined with the force of tons of water, and the perfect angle, they can become really sharp, really fast. People have gotten muscles gouged out by these things! Any by-passer would mistake a scar from a fin incident as a shark bite! If that’s not scary enough, it’s not only your fins that you’ve got to worry about, but other surfer’s fins become potential assaulters as soon as they are on a wave (but not always…), and don’t forget, that your beloved stick can easily become a target as well. So control your fins! Who knows what havoc you might wreak!
The interesting bit (no pun intended) about this shark attack is that this surfer was bitten on the foot, and may have lost a few toes. This makes you wonder: did this victim wiggle his toes? If he didn’t, would his phalanges down low be spared? Maybe he had a toe ring? Who knows? I heard that sharks like to “test” their prey before going for the kill – maybe that’s what it was. Or maybe it just wanted to play footsies.
… And honestly, this a kind of stupid way to get hurt. It looks like a blast to do, but imagine being hurt while you do it: “How did you break your neck? Where you surfing Shipsterns Bluff and you wiped out onto the rock shelf?” Then you try to come up with a reply that sounds like you where actually doing something that sounds Indiana Jones-like: “I was, uhhh, standing on this concrete platform, by where the waves break, and uhhhh, I heard this wave coming, so I uhhhh ran for edge, and uhhh, there was this helicopter! Yeah! And I had to jump for the rope ladder! And the wave hit that platform and EXPLODED!!! But I missed the rope ladder by inches, I fell, and landed on a piling.” But if there were waves like this, I would be looking for a rideable wave, not throwing myself into an intentional wipeout.
Last Monday at everyone’s favorite North Shore reef, Pipeline, Nathan Fletcher suffered one of the most painful and unfortunate of breaks at one of the heaviest and most cherished of breaks. He broke his femur in two places, requiring a full on Hawaiian water rescue. In an unusual twist of fate, Nathan’s break did not happen while getting slammed on the reef, or battered in the impact zone, or even pulling into some monster closeout. Nathan was out for a freesurf after event organizers called off the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout for the day, when one of his usual grinding speed turns went horribly wrong. While attempting to rebound off the whitewater following one of his signature cutbacks, Nathan somehow compacted and broke his leg. As witnesses say, it was the break heard around the world, or at least heard from the beach and nearby houses. While some media has reported that he’ll be back in the water in no time, others who have suffered similar breaks have been sidelined for a good half-year, given the time it takes to heal the bone, recover from muscle atrophy and all the necessary rehabilitation. All of this goes to show that injuries don’t always happen as or when expected. We’re all wishing Nathan a swift and full recovery.
We’ve already heard too much about the pros and their constant battle with injuries, like Dane Reynold’s huge air to busted ankle late last year. It’s time we focus on us non pros who are not doing six foot aerials in thumping French beachbreaks. Here’s a guy who was just out doing his thing, when things suddenly went very, very wrong. I know when you start watching it, you’re just thinking, who’s this kook? Or, that this is possibly the most boring clip of surfing you’ve ever seen. I know I wanted to see the guy go down, or at least start doing something. Even when watching the section where he eats it in full motion, it’s near impossible to detect that something wrong happened. Then you see the slow down. The devil, as they say, is in the details. Watch closely as we see this poor, unfortunate logger have his leg folded forward and twisted, while attempting a little nose time. Enjoy, and don’t do this at home.
I went surfing Sunday – just another day. It was morning, the crowd was out, and the waves were nice. I had picked off a couple of set waves that I’m pretty sure put a few of the on-looking females in heat. What can I say? But then it happened – I got slammed…hard. As I was paddling out, I got caught right in the impact zone and took about 14 tons of water betwixt my shoulder blades. My board quickly scurried away from under my arms and all of a sudden I felt the sharpness of my one of my fins slice my palm like butter…warm butter. I knew I was in trouble, because when I came up for air my hand was red from the blood, and the female spectators shouted “we’re not in heat anymore!”
I included a pic of my hand slice. It looked worse when it first happened, but just keep in mind that this is several hours after the fact. Should I have gotten stitches? Nah, I’m too hardcore for that! Yeah right…besides, my health insurance charges for stitches…