Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

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This was my third time surfing 'The Right' as photographed by Chris Gurney

Located a kilometre and a half off the coast in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia, It this wave, you never really know what you are getting yourself into, when being towed in by jetski, we begin … (read more)

This was my third time surfing 'The Right' as photographed by Chris Gurney

Located a kilometre and a half off the coast in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia, It this wave, you never really know what you are getting yourself into, when being towed in by jetski, we begin up to one hundred metres behind the wave so there is not much way of knowing if you are being put into a good or bad wave. In this instance, ninety percent of where the rider ends up on the wave is due to the driver.


On this day the swell direction was not particularly good. From the south, often leading to the peak of the wave being aimed more at the left as seen behind me. This is where I should be entering from. My good friend Lewy Finnegan had dropped me off on the wrong edge of the reef here, the board I was riding, a huge defect in it. A kink where the shaper messed up the nose lift completely hugely detrimental to the board’s fluid dynamic performance. All this lead to a moment where the board stopped halfway up the face. Here, you cannot make a mistake, the ocean moves in ways that will boggle the mind and this swell and its dangerous direction was doing exactly that. It felt like the ocean just grabbed me, and said“you are coming with me, little man”

Within an instant I was next to the lip, what felt like four or five stories up in the air with not much option but to jump from my board. From there my memory is still clear as day. I did a complete cartwheel on the way down and upon landing into the bowels of the wave felt a power I had never before. Near on zero control over my arms and legs as I was rag dolled helplessly, at some point during this mayhem I managed to get my hand near my shoulder to the pull cord for the inflation wetsuit I was wearing, the original Shane Dorian Billabong inflation suit designed to allow for the release of a CO2 canister, inflating an air pocket to bring someone to the surface.

Not much happened.

I was still going down. It was pitch black.

As I descended further my head began to feel like it was being squeezed in a vice by the water pressure when, all of sudden my ears equalised, a painful screeching sound piercing through my ears, amongst complete chaos but the pressure on my head abated. I pulled the cord again...

I started rising towards the surface but it was still pitch black, I stayed patient and a few moments later I began to see light through the turbulence, I gave a few kicks to try get to the surface faster, a bad idea, using much of my fast running out oxygen supply thinking I was not far from taking a breath, only to get hit by either another wave or different piece of turbulence a few metres from and sent spinning back around forcing me to mentally relax myself and allow the energy of the ocean to dissipate to break the surface that I could now see more and more light coming through.

When I broke the surface, I could see Lewy on the Jet Ski coming straight for me, the wave had blasted me all the way underwater to the inside edge of the reef, I hauled myself up onto the Jet Ski trying to get the water out of my ears and the ringing in my ears to stop.

The wildest beating of my life.


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