The most horrific wipe-outs with the most awful of consequences can happen at the most insignificant moments. How often have you tried a shore break re-entry in small surf where you probably should not have? Most of us have a regretful memory of a shore break close out that has left us sore and sorry.
Tom Carroll, from Newport Beach, Australia (one of the greatest surfers of all time), has a shore break memory that beats all.
While free surfing the day before a contest at Niijama Beach in Japan, Tom challenged the closing out shore break one too many times and suffered the consequences. The nose of his board dug into the sand causing his back foot to slip off the tail.
It is interesting in surfing how quickly stuff happens. One moment everything is great and suddenly, everything is going wrong. In a fraction of a moment your mind sums up the situation and imagines what is going to happen next. The physics of waves and their interaction with surfers and surfboards is so complex that your feeble brain almost never gets it right. At times you think you are in for a miserable caning and it often turns out to be nothing but a few gentle bumps. On the other hand, at times when you think that you are pretty safe you find yourself upside down with a board bearing down on you. You just can’t tell.
If Tom had been able to predict the outcome of his shore break indiscretion that moment things started to go wrong he might have been able to take some evasive action but, unfortunately, that is not how surfing works. The next thing Tom knew was that one of the fins of his board was heading straight for his backside! Like a guided missile it inserted itself into the most delicate spot it could find requiring five stitches to repair the internal damage and another eight to close up the external gash.
Just to make matters worse, the disinfectant that the doctors gave Tom to prevent the wounds from becoming septic burned the pro-surfer’s scrotum. No one thought to explain to him in English that the stuff was meant to be diluted 100 parts water to one-part disinfectant when he left the hospital.