Surf SurvivalCosta Rica

Photo by Joe Walsh

Just over a week until our second annual Surf Survival Camp at the Harmony Hotel. Another beat down story that happened near our own back yard.
I was in Costa Rica for the first time, having traveled there alone. I was staying in Tamarindo and caught a boat ride over to Playa Grande. From the outside looking at the backs of the waves, it looked pretty solid. I jumped out of the boat, paddled to the break and took off on a few. The surf was overhead and barreling. I was feeling confident and on a good board. I thought to myself that this had the potential to be a good session with maybe the best barrel so far. To date, I hadn’t gotten a large, deep barrel. I started sitting further out on the peak, looking for a set wave. It didn’t take too long for a solid set to come in and I paddled further out to get the biggest one. I got there just as the wave was peaking. I spun around to take off backside, it was sucking up and pitching. I had visions of a big, backside barrel if I made the late drop. I took off late, slid down the face, grabbed rail, slid out, got pitched, sucked over the falls, beaten and could feel my leash stretch all the way out like it was going to break. The next moment, the top of my head was just about at the surface when I saw a flash of light and felt the board hit my face. The board had recoiled hard off the stretched leash with the tail hitting my forehead and the center fin slicing my cheek from just under my eye to my chin. Blood immediately poured into the water. I grabbed my board, paddled over to the nearest surfer and asked how bad – with big eyes, he said, “bad.” I padded around bleeding until I found the boat driver, who was surfing down the beach, got a ride back, found a ride to the emergency clinic where they offered stitches, although the young man in the small facility said there will be a big zipper on my face from the stitches. I asked him to clean the wound, do his best to line up the skin and apply some butterfly bandages instead of stitches. I really needed plastic surgery to avoid a bad scar on my face. I spent the next few hours trying to arrange a flight back to the states. When I finally got back and to the plastic surgeon’s office, he said it was too late to do anything, but after if fully healed he could cut the scar out and try to stitch it together better. It healed and looked like a raised worm running down my cheek. Over time it’s improved, but I still see that souvenir every time I shave. I went – and copped my best beat-down.

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