“It felt like I went to, like, the tenth dimension underwater. It was so violent and turbulent, going from deep to shallow to just, you know, my feet hitting my side, my arms hitting my back. And I was able to kinda find some sort of acceptance in the situation.” – Ian Walsh via YouTube
I’ve surfed exactly once in my entire life. It was a beginner lesson, so when I fell (which happened nearly every time I tried to catch a wave) it didn’t really hurt. If you’ve avoided water sports for most of your life, you might think taking a tumble while surfing wouldn’t hurt that much. It’s water, you just sink in, right? Absolutely wrong.
Even if you’ve never surfed, but you’ve been tubing, waterskiing, or wakeboarding, you know water can do some hardcore damage. When you’re moving fast, water can be pretty violent. I watched a kid break his arm tubing at summer camp, I’ve heard of waterskiing falls that cause bloody noses, and I’ve had my swimsuit ripped off while wakeboarding (I know that isn’t that painful, but it’s not fun to be in the middle of a packed lake at 2 p.m. with no swimsuit… plus I still think it’s funny, so I’m telling you about it).
Surfing almost definitely has some of the gnarliest wipeouts in water sports. Deaths aren’t uncommon, and there’s a reason it’s considered an extreme sport. Not only are the falls themselves rough, but then the wave can come down on top of the fallen surfers to crush them with hundreds of tonnes of pressure. A 33-foot wave, for example, can hit individuals with 410 tonnes (if you’ve ever seen Surf’s Up, you know exactly what I’m talking about).
If you still don’t believe me, watch the following video of Ian Walsh explaining the feeling of being crushed by a massive wave at Mavericks in Northern California.
Image Credit: Ian Walsh via YouTube