Russell Bierke taken to hospital after Down South wipeout
Today, while the remaining CT surfers blazed through bluebird conditions at the Rip Curl Pro, an emergency unfolded on Victoria's west coast.
As webcast watchers saw, Bells Beach enjoyed light northerly winds with 6-8 feet of swell, while the coastline west of Cape Otway had similarly gentle winds but more than double the amount of swell.
Considering the size and conditions - it ain't often you get all day offshores down there - a number of surfers made the trek, both ousted CTers such as Kelly Slater, and the obligatory big wave set. Amongst the latter was Russell Bierke.
Russ at The Right, West Oz (Photo Tim Bonython)
Eyewitnesses say that after pulling into a big barrel, Russ fell and apeared to get hit on the head or neck by his board. Russ was then down for a long time, some reports are saying it was a two wave hold down, before being pulled onto a ski by Kelly Slater, Ross Clarke-Jones, and Ryan Hipwood. Unlike some others in the water, Russ wasn't wearing an inflatable vest.
"Kelly and Ryan bought him to shore. He was pretty blue, shaken up, and he'd taken in a lot of water," said one onlooker whose wife was the first paramedic to treat him.
On shore he was given oxygen by paramedics and had his lungs cleared. "He brought up a lot of water," said the eyewitness, "and he didn't look good at all."
With his condition stabilised, Russ was then taken to Warnambool Hospital with Ryan Hipwood also attending.
More to come...