Wipe out intensity?

Stok's picture
Stok started the topic in Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 10:33am

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Stok's picture
Stok's picture
Stok Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 10:39am

Watching the footage of Deadmans, and generally watching people getting slammed in the most unimaginable ways over and over - made me think, has anyone had a crack at scientifically rating wipeout intensity?

Factors such as the following could all be used to scale it
- hold down length
- hold down depth
- height of fall
- Swell period/power
- g force experienced
- spins/flips experienced and number of
- water/air temp
-likelihood of hitting solid objects
-likelihood of 2+ wave hold downs
- Was a vest worn or not?

Essentially, I've never surfed anything over maybe 8-10ft, and I've never really been hit by the worst of waves at that scale. Most of my memorably bad wipeouts seem to be in the 4-6ft range (longer hold down, bouncing off reef, properly shook up etc.).

I'd love to have a sense of just how bad, or how much worse coming off a wave like the ones at Deadmans really is?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 10:49am

From the surfers themselves, they were hitting the boulders/bottom if not once, twice and the beatings were apparently way way more violent than anything out on a deep water bombora. Not sure how more shoulders don't get ripped out or even pelvis etc. Some of the hold downs were crazy as well. High risk of getting a leggy snagged as well.

Good thread.

mattlock's picture
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mattlock Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 11:02am

Certainly some gnarly beatings going down in those Deadman's sessions.
Stok. You forgot - likelihood of getting washed into an underwater cave.

stunet's picture
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stunet Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 11:16am

It's not possible to objectively quantify a wipeout, the forces are just too random and unpredictable, plus a large part of any wipeout is the state of the surfer going into it: Did they get a breath? Was it the second or third wave? What shape are they in? etc etc.

My own experience tells me deep water waves with East Coast periods (i.e 10-13 seconds) make the worst mix. It ain't necessarily the initial wipeout, but the waves that follow it and how soon they're upon you.

dazzler's picture
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dazzler Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 12:28pm

Kirra has some pretty violent hold downs on the sandbank, it hits hard & presses on the sandbank.

Bloke I know was videoing solid Kirra on his boog, hit the sandbank, broke his collarbone & copped the next 2 on the head then drags himself in with busted wing. Makes for nasty viewing.

He does get some amazing Kirra tube footage though & posts it on Insta.

Roadkill's picture
Roadkill's picture
Roadkill Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 12:52pm

a 2 wave hold down is my ultimate fear. Shit, a 4 foot hold down scares me...not at all ashamed to admit it.
I can not even imagine a 10ft+ thrashing

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 1:19pm

Ive had two 2 wave hold downs over the years ,one i vividly remember is a blue water day 6ft with slightly bigger waves and getting drilled to the bottom and held there and watching the next wave break above ....been a third wave and it would have been curtains...another on 3ft day on a shallow bank getting pinned to the bottom, face against the sand and it felt like someone was pushing down on me ......couldn't believe it on such a small fun day that would be possible.

gromfull's picture
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gromfull Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 1:19pm
Roadkill wrote:

a 2 wave hold down is my ultimate fear. Shit, a 4 foot hold down scares me...not at all ashamed to admit it.
I can not even imagine a 10ft+ thrashing

I now understand why your so pro vaccine

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 3:03pm

Having lived on the east coast and Vic & Tassie and a lot of time in Indo this is my experience.

East coast- You might get held down, but its warm water your kinda relaxed, 99% of the time its over a sand bottom, and after you nearly drown, your often in waist deep water standing on sand, you look on the beach and there is people everywhere often including attractive women in bikinis and it all feels safe and comforting, you either paddle back out and have no choice but to have a break waiting among the crowd or you walk back out around the point maybe sitting down watching a few sets while you regain your breath and confidence and do it all again.

Vic/Tassie- You get held down, its dark, it deep but its also shallow and its cold you pop up, then a freezing 30knot wind blows spray in your face that feels like someones thrown a bunch of cold tiny pebbles at you, the sky's dark, you can hardly move because of this thick wetsuit and you instantly feel like a shark is ready to chomp your legs, you look to the beach there is nobody there a voice in your head is going, go in, but you dont want too go in with a tail between your legs, and if you go in you feel defeated and a loser, if you stay out, you spend your time not enjoying yourself trying to avoid it happening again.

Indo- It just a feeling of oh no and regret, a split second image of either coming down in the lip towards reef or a very long second or two pinned on some coral bottom, before your very violently bounced down the reef like a pinball, you might lose your breath, but your thoughts are more about what have i done? how serious is this? Do i have just cuts and scratches or something real serious?...that initial first few seconds once you surface is scary and confusing trying to figure out the seriousness of whats happen, your kind of numb and then ever so slowly you get the results...that can mean you paddling back out and being fine a few minutes latter telling the story to mates or your trip has suddenly all changed and your trying to find some half decent medical care and really regretting it all wishing you had been more careful.

garyg1412's picture
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garyg1412 Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 3:09pm

The ensuing injuries after a wipeout makes for good memories.
1) Surfing 8 foot Bay Of Plenty in Durban back in the 80’s and copped a thick lip straight on my head. Drove me straight through my board and my head into my knee resulting in two bottom lips. 3 Internal and 4 external stiches later and I was good to go. The bloke next to me in A&E with 4 stab wounds had it worse though.
2) Surfing an innocuous 4 foot reef break and got slotted in a real shallow section and got driven into the reef with my chin. To this day I still can’t remember waking up, paddling out, wiping out or paddling in. My mate found me in my car an hour later with a huge gash on my chin, blood all over his car seat and severe concussion. I had a cracking headache for about 3 days.
3) Waiting to jump off the Lennox like boulders at Bruce’s in Cape St Francis in the late 80’s on a swell that I don’t think has been broken yet. It was a solid 10-12 foot and a tad bigger on the sets. After about 20 minutes of waiting this triple up white water about 6 foot high rears it head on the 3 of us and we get rag dolled across about 10 metres of dry boulders, a couple of metres of dry sand and ended up at the base of the coastal vegetation. No injuries. Just a dented ego.

groundswell's picture
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groundswell Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 3:29pm

Good thread. Im a lot more scared in my mid fourties then ive ever been of big waves. I started riding a shortboard in small waves as small waves on a lid is pretty boring in crappy small waves, which on a shortboard i found fun, especially things like floaters. Back then i used to surf 10 foot plus waves often on a lid such as shark island, voodoo and south coast reefs but have never been able to surf waves bigger than 6-8 foot on a shortboard or mini gun, unless its an easy takeoff bombie.
I dont know what is is but taking off under the lip in big waves on barrelling waves like voodoo on a shortboard was extremely hard..Even gnaraloo i couldnt surf bigger than 5 foot these days on a shortboard.
Maybe its my meds making me more unco these days but i just find it extremely difficult.

My worst wipeout i can remember i saw a set approaching shark island at phantoms and paddled out to second reef were i assumed it would break, second reef mid peak. the tide was almost lowtide but i paddled into it anyway as i thought it looked South East enough to be makeable.
I pulled in as midpeak threw out a narrow barrel then went into surge where the pit went square and i couldnt hold my line and slid out into the shockwave and foamball..a few more seconds and of holding an edge and i may have had a chance but the lip threw me over and i landed flat on the reef skull dragged accross the dry reef.Two waves in a row and popped up in the channel. A friend was watching from the channel named David Hubbard who paddled out to check i was safe and i was just spewing i didnt make it said "yeah im fine just a few scratches".

One i nearly thought i downed on was when i was about 11 or 12 and paddled out to big south cronulla beach on the outer banks which is where it breaks when its 8 foot plus. i got stuck inside on one set turned around to try and catch the exploding white water and was thrown forward and held down for what seemed like 30 seconds maybe longer...popped up without a board and no flippers wondering how the hell i would get in..floated in eventually but jeez that was my first real scary wipeout.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 3:32pm

You can get some tremendous floggings at Cloudbreak when it's over 8ft.

frog's picture
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frog Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 3:45pm

Hold down, power, size, rocks etc are one thing. But another factor that changes everything is your injury history. I have a couple of issues where, for example, if I get ripped around in the wrong way without some degree of control over my posture underwater my back could pinch and I could get hurt. But in normal waves up to say 6 foot I can control that.

Deadman's wildness could do all sorts of nasty stuff to me.

I suspect surfers like Tyler Wright who has some knee injury history was super wary of big Pipe in part cause she knows what could happen to her knee. It is not just big wave fear.

For Billy Kemper, going out at massive Jaws after his horrific injuries in Portugal, a whole series of demons could be at work in his mind worrying about his knee, pelvis etc. Overcoming those and charging is pretty impressive. But without his massive muscle building / strengthening work to protect himself it would be foolish.

Stitches, bruises or cuts are short term. Once you have that sort of chronic tendon or back weakness / history everything sort of changes.

Stok's picture
Stok's picture
Stok Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 4:00pm
stunet wrote:

It's not possible to objectively quantify a wipeout, the forces are just too random and unpredictable, plus a large part of any wipeout is the state of the surfer going into it: Did they get a breath? Was it the second or third wave? What shape are they in? etc etc.

I agree but also think we could throw something on it.

You could easily argue that you can't objectively measure a wave height....but we seemingly universally agree on the vague scale using ft/feet/foot as the metric.

Be great to say have a scale of 1-5. Where 5 would mean you'd almost definitely need a safety team and risk of severe injury or death was high. 1 being essentially no risk aside from hitting your own board or not being able to swim.

You could also test your own physical strength and overall health against the scale (i.e. you've been trained and physically fit to survive a scale 4 or 5 wipeout).

The thing which gets me is, there seems to be very, very few critical injuries or deaths on large swells such as what Deadmans saw. Seems like pure luck that there's not more? The crew were pushing it, taking off late, no protective gear etc.

Roadkill's picture
Roadkill's picture
Roadkill Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 4:26pm

Has anyone done a breath holding course? I am thinking of doing one just to help getting a little bit more comfortable in some situations

udo's picture
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udo Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 4:48pm
wax24's picture
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wax24 Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 5:00pm

This is a good thread. I got bounced off my head and somersaulted over off a sand bottom in Santa Cruz many years back. Not much of a story to it. Didn't last long and i was fine other than headache/stiff neck. I distinctly remember, all these years later, thinking just as my head was about to hit that i was gonna break my neck, and what have i done? I agree with Frog, tho, about the injury history. These days, my arthritic knees are my greatest worry, and how my leggy might become my enemy in a situation i am not controlling.

groundswell's picture
groundswell's picture
groundswell Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 5:09pm

One time it really scared me when on a 3 foot day i was surfing a shallow reef my leggy got hooked around a bit of cunji and my head would go underwater every time a wave went past.
I started freaking out but all it took was for me to unvelcro my leash and it took the pressure off the leash and it was free again.
Lesson learnt, its happened again since but now i know what to do.

mickseq's picture
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mickseq Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 7:42pm

Maybe one way to measure it could be to track someone's heart rate at the point of decent into the washing machine, sooner or later panic will set in as you start to run out of oxygen, the realisation that your are not going to make it starts to overwhelm you, the heart will then start to accelerate.

wally's picture
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wally Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 8:23pm

Just a general observation,
I think stats show that, by a long way, most surf injuries happen in little dumpers close to shore. They mostly happen to bathers. Of course, it’s where the highest number of people meet a wave that can knock them arse over tea kettle.

Like on Oahu, where lifeguards say Sandy Beach produces more injuries than all the other Oahu beaches combined.

andy-mac's picture
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andy-mac Monday, 4 Apr 2022 at 8:48pm
wally wrote:

Just a general observation,
I think stats show that, by a long way, most surf injuries happen in little dumpers close to shore. They mostly happen to bathers. Of course, it’s where the highest number of people meet a wave that can knock them arse over tea kettle.

Like on Oahu, where lifeguards say Sandy Beach produces more injuries than all the other Oahu beaches combined.

Every major surf injury ( requiring professional medical attention) I have had had happened in less than 4 foot surf... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Scariest hold down bombie Uluwatu, 10-15 foot day. Pinned on bottom after not making take off. Snapped board, snapped leggie ( could not use to climb up). Was trying to stay calm basically sitting on reef ( if ya have surfed here, you know it's deep) but it would not let me up. Started to stress and finally got to top and quick breath before next one mowed me down. Reckon would not be typing this if did not get that breath in. Last time I surfed it.... Bit rattled after tbh, and getting older....