The second on my list of most embarrassing moments whilst surfing, has to be the time I knocked myself out on a 1ft day with a 10ft longboard. Winning.
Again, this was about 6 years ago, when I was living in Spain and it was pretty much flat but I thought I’d grab one of the 10ft huge NSP/BIC type longboards and try and catch a little wave. My friends were on the beach hanging out, mainly because they weren’t as keen to surf the 1ft waves as I was.
I paddled out on this little reef break (there were no sand breaks where I was living) and I had been in the water for about 30 seconds when I caught my first wave. If anyone has surfed with me, they know I don’t really clean my equipment too often and also my wax jobs are questionable. The wax was about 3years old and there wasn’t really any on the nose of the board. So when I tried one of those Hang 5’s that you see on the TV, I slipped off my board. No big deal, it happens a lot, I’m used to it. The only problem was, I thought the board had passed over me when I was underwater, so when I came up, I made the huge mistake of not covering my head. The board was actually still behind me and on the next wave heading straight towards me. As I put my head up above the water, the nose of this 10ft log went straight into my cheek bone, just under my eye socket.
So the next thing i remember was opening my eyes and I was just lying on my back. Luckily I’m not the size of a twig so I float pretty well. I was a bit confused and couldn’t open my eye and most of all, I felt like a massive kook (which probably should’ve been the least of my worries).
I got my board and actually paddled back out and made myself catch a few more waves. I don’t think I was being super hardcore, I was just in shock and trying not to freak out, but after about 5 minutes I realised this was a stupid idea. I got out of the water and kind of stumbled up the beach until my friends realised I hadn’t had a few beers whilst sat out in the line up and that I’d actually hurt myself. Can I just add at this point, my mates would make crap lifeguards.
They took me to the hospital and I had 3 fractures in my face. Thats right, I broke my face. Unfortunately it didn’t make me look like Alana Blanchard or a super model, I just kind of looked more like Sloth from the Goonies as you can see in the picture.
Even though it could’ve been pretty serious, I just felt mainly embarrassed because I was a surf instructor at the time and basically: a) I had to explain daily that I did it whilst surfing but “no worries guys, you’ll be super safe with me!” and b) It happened on a 1ft day because I hadn’t changed my wax in a few years and I didn’t cover my head when I fell off the board – which is one of the top rules when you surf.
So if you learn anything from my swollen, mess of a face, it should be that even when surfing 1ft days, cover your head. Also, aim to change the wax on your board as frequently as the Brazilians thank God for their heat wins. I’d better get buying some more blocks of wax.