So I’ll be the first to admit that I get pretty scared in big surf. When I say big surf, I mean about shoulder to head high. I never used to be too bothered by it until we filmed Episode 2 of Kelly Says in France. Basically, it was a solid 6ft swell at the Mens’ WCT event in Hossegor and seeing as myself and Dannie were there doing what we do best (stalking Kelly Slater) we decided we wanted to have a bash and go for a surf. Anyone who’s ever been the that part of France will tell you that, that coastline has NO shelter anywhere. We travelled for 2hrs up and down the coast looking for a sheltered bit but basically France is just one massive beach (I didn’t take Geography as a GCSE so my knowledge might not be on point). We’d got fed up of driving so just stopped at one of the many beaches on that coast line and decided it looked as good as any and we were going to get in. The fact that no one was out should have given us a bit of warning. What could go wrong?!
I was pretty much at my limit in that surf and so was Dannie. We were so far out to sea and the water was so deep it felt like WA and pretty sharky (not literally but I’m sure you get the idea). We’d both caught a couple of waves and were saying how we were “just in the right place” that if a huge set came through, it would break outside and mellow out before it got to us. Due to the offshore winds, we hadn’t quite realised that we’d been blown out to sea a little bit. Cue the set of the day. I looked at Dannie, Dannie looked at me, I sh*t myself, I’m pretty sure Dannie did the same and we both just sat there trying not to freak the other one out.
The wave broke literally in front of us and I must’ve been feeling like a Pro or something because I tried to duck dive it. Dannie on the other hand did a last minute ditch, but not where you swim as deep as you can, just a kind of “argh get that board away from me” ditch and took the full impact….to her face.
I lost my board about 0.001 seconds into my duck dive and I was pretty calm at first, I was just bumbling around near the top. Then it sucked me down and my ears popped and I did the counting thing but gave up when I reached 15. It was so dark and when I finally felt myself start to float, I did 5 big breast strokes and still wasn’t at the top. Its been the only time I really thought I was going to drown but the only thing keeping me calm was knowing Dannie was somewhere underwater and going through it as well. I came up to see Dannie was still under and watched her pop up just in time to get a breath and we got smashed by the next one. Meanwhile, our filmer (Emma) on the beach, missed the whole thing cause she got attacked by a bee. True story.
So basically, after we lost contact lenses, bikinis and a lot of confidence, we managed to paddle together to the beach in a shaky, half crying, mess. The only really cool thing was that we went through it together so anytime anyone asks us what our worst wipeout was, we just look at each other and are like “That time we got our asses handed to us in France”.
So I guess this article about More Stoke Than Sense is really just about safety. Don’t do what we did and be a kook hero. We’re not Kelly Slater and Surfing No Matter What is great but you don’t have to literally go out when Kelly Slater is out. I think we became the champions of 1ft onshore mush not long after this happened!
If you guys have any wipeout stories then we’d love to hear them!