Seeing red with Jughead

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Last Tuesday Justen 'Jughead' Allport flew to Tasmania to intercept a Shippies swell. It was, in fact, the biggest swell to appear on the charts for over a year so he wasn't gonna miss it. Sitting beside Jughead was 18-year old Wade Clemens, who like Jug hails from the NSW Central Coast. He's also Jug's latest heavy water prodigy, though their relationship is a touch more tangled than that of the typical master and apprentice.

"Yeah," says Jug, who's 45-years old, "he's gone out with my daughter a few times."

The next morning the two were in the channel at Shipsterns, along with the usual Southern Lords, plus Kipp Caddy and bodyboarder Mike Stewart.

From left, Jughead, Kipp Caddy, Wade Clemens, Mike Stewart, with Tim Bonython at front

"It was 15 foot plus in the morning," Jug tells me. "That's when the really big waves came through, early in the morning."

Jug had a session, caught maybe six waves without incident before Mike signalled that he wanted a few. Jug sat back and watched the locals, plus Wade, Mike, and Kipp get whipped into some beasts.

The list of goofyfoots who've conquered Shippies starts and ends with Danny Griffiths, though Wade Clemens isn't put off by the odds (Tim Bonython)

Early into his second session, it may have been Jug's first wave or his second, he isn't sure, a wide one swung in, and best of all it slipped underneath the local crew. Now was his chance to go, and go he did.

"I was travelling so fast," says Jug, his voice barely audible for reasons that will become apparent shortly. Though it's low decibel, his voice carries weight - when he says fast, my eyes water.

"Everything was going OK, but I hit the step flying, and it sent me...flying," chuckles Jug at the choice of words, though it was here that things got serious.

"I couldn't land it, and the wave blasted me out in front of it, then I went up and over, and I hit the bottom right in the centre of my back," explains Jug.

The impact rattled him. "It was like an electric shock going through my body. You can think some bad thoughts when things like that happen."

He was relieved, however, that when it came time to swim for the surface his arms and legs responded. Kipp was quickly on the spot, checked his condition, and got him back to the boat.

"I sat down for a while," Jug tells me, "but then I didn't want my back to lock up so I walked around." Zeb Critchlow came over and took him for a spin on the back of the ski, together they had a front row seat as Tyler Hollmer-Cross got one of the barrels of the day.

"I began feeling good again," says Jug.

Meanwhile, the conditions had changed, the consistency dropped away, as well as some of the size - though it was still in the 12-15ft range - and paddling became an option. Jug waxed his 6'4" and rejoined the fray.

The first wave was a small barrel and he got down the face of it OK. The second wave however...

"It was a bigger wave," recalls Jug, "but I thought it had an entry before it hit the step. I thought I could get in under it. My back hurt and I was cold and I knew I had to give it 100% to have a chance."

When he looks at the video now he knows he didn't really have a chance. The step rises up from the flats to join the lip just as Jug is trying to get down it. "I got to my feet for half a second, then..." his voice trails off.

The merging of step and lip blocked the escape route. "I went to pin drop," says Jug, "but the lip hit me in the head and sent me off axis. As soon as I hit I knew I'd broken my ribs."

Wasn't the first time, he'd broken ribs before, so he knew not to overdo it underwater. Movement was going to hurt. "I didn't struggle with the lack of air, I struggled with the pain."

Again Kipp came to the rescue, this time with Mike on the sled. Jug had blood around his mouth and looked like he'd done ten rounds with Tyson. They gently plucked him out of the ocean.

"I sat on the boat," says Jug of his predicament, "sorta worried but sorta not. I knew I was in trouble, but I knew what that trouble was. Besides, I wanted to watch the boys go at it."

The ride back to South Arm was a whole new world of pain, the boat banging into the chop for an hour-something. Terra firma provided relief so he didn't bother with Royal Hobart, he was flying out the next day anyway. So he flew home, drove to the Cenny Coast, did family stuff, and visited the doctor Thursday arvo.

"You don't know how lucky you are," the doc said gravely. The injury list started with a wedge fracture of his T11 vertabrae - courtesy of the first wipeout - a punctured lung that deflated when it was pierced by one of his seven broken ribs - the second wipeout.

They immediately shoved tubes into his chest cavity to drain the excess blood. Jug only just had them removed when I called. He was still feeling fragile, hence his rasping voice.

Over the weekend Jug exchanged messages with Mark Mathews. Mark, who's wife has just had a child, was wondering if the impulse to swing and go changes once you've got kids to think about.

"Well does it?" I ask.

"I might not go the 50/50 ones anymore," answers Jug, "but then if one stands up in front of me I don't think about the odds. I kinda still go."

The doctor told him he's out for between 8 and 12 weeks, but Jug isn't so sure. "I've done them before so I know it's just a matter of leaving them till they feel good. Then you can return."

Before I go he asks about a big swell hitting Shippies later this week. "You reckon the wind'll be good down there this Thursday?"

All photos by Tim Bonython

Comments

dewhurst's picture
dewhurst's picture
dewhurst commented Monday, 16 Sep 2019 at 4:57pm

Jesus! How old is Jughead now??

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 16 Sep 2019 at 5:03pm

45

JackStance's picture
JackStance's picture
JackStance commented Monday, 16 Sep 2019 at 10:36pm

Mike Stewart is 56 - still crazy charging.... grows all of his on food and animals and trains with Paul Chek.

Breath. Murdoch's empire will one day fail to control our minds.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019 at 6:57pm

Does he have a job? Family? Any hindrances to the lifestyle?

JackStance's picture
JackStance's picture
JackStance commented Wednesday, 25 Sep 2019 at 10:58am

wife and 2 kids, owns Science bodyboards-he's probably one of the most significant figures in bodyboarding, and bodysurfing -with 14 bodysurfing world titles. heres a good clip: https://vimeo.com/142475609

Breath. Murdoch's empire will one day fail to control our minds.

DeathToCompSurfing's picture
DeathToCompSurfing's picture
DeathToCompSurfing commented Thursday, 26 Sep 2019 at 8:39am

Jack s. Love your byline. I pray for that day

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Monday, 16 Sep 2019 at 5:32pm

Paddling that on a 6'4"?

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Monday, 16 Sep 2019 at 5:57pm

Crazy.

Probably should have seen a doctor earlier. Just sayin'.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

jimmymallen's picture
jimmymallen's picture
jimmymallen commented Monday, 16 Sep 2019 at 6:18pm

Crazy and lucky. Untreated punctured lung (pneumothorax) can quickly become life threatening (tension pneumothorax) in a pressurised aeroplane cabin

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019 at 8:53am

Tension pneumothorax is no joke. Should have definitely got an X-ray in Hobart. Riding the waves was risky, but a risk he understands. Catching the aeroplane could have been fatal. For anyone out there in a similar predicament - if you have fractured ribs, esp multiple, get an X-ray before you fly. Having said that, this is an interesting paper about the theoretical pressures in the plurae, as yet I don’t think it has been tested. Gonna forward to a mate who may be able to do the study!

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Monday, 16 Sep 2019 at 6:19pm

still living the dream, good on him

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019 at 6:58pm

Nightmare for me.

Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong commented Monday, 16 Sep 2019 at 6:20pm

I landed on my head on a rock shelf July last year and compression fractured my t7 and t11,3 broken ribs(one of em really bad separation) and hairline fracture in collarbone!! Lucky to not end up in a wheelchair for life, the injury itself didn't hurt, super winded for a minute,no breath in or out at all! It took me 5 months to get back in water,a lot longer than doctors predicted!!! I'm back surfing 100% and I went out same break I injured myself at a few weeks ago and mentally I'm not there to go them sort of waves at moment!!! I'm 40 yo and I know now it's a longer time to heal any injury,good luck jug!!!

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019 at 6:59pm

Gath?

Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong commented Wednesday, 18 Sep 2019 at 9:21am

Ha ha,I do use one full-time in indo, that particular day I was in my missus car and my gath was in my car,trust me,I regretted that decision to use her car that day!!!! That's life!

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Monday, 16 Sep 2019 at 6:22pm

What an animal.

It's funny, I have three kids now and a couple of weeks back I had butterflies in my tummy knowing the waves were 10 foot. I though about my family and about being careful. However, when I got out there and the biggest wave of the session came through I didn't hesitate. I felt clarity in the moment and took off really late. Perhaps we are hard wired as warriors to put our body on the line when we're needed?

Billie

redmondo's picture
redmondo's picture
redmondo commented Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019 at 8:40am

A fine line between a ride of ya life and nasty injuries. I wondered if I would ever return to the surf and spent a year of rehab recovery. Now I think a bit more of persevation and surfing another day.

Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong commented Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019 at 9:35am

Agree remondo

Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw commented Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019 at 12:11pm

Wtf? I thought there was a culture of Safety,Risk Mitigation and Situational Awareness in the Fire Department. Fuck mate,its your body,not a pile of bricks

HORACE's picture
HORACE's picture
HORACE commented Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019 at 4:16pm

This is the type of day I would like to see the comp run on

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Wednesday, 18 Sep 2019 at 5:44am

Yeah full hero alright,but fukin stupid and selfish as well

simba

Kevchecksurf's picture
Kevchecksurf's picture
Kevchecksurf commented Wednesday, 18 Sep 2019 at 10:25pm

Selfish?

Logical's picture
Logical's picture
Logical commented Wednesday, 18 Sep 2019 at 10:52am

Medicare never envisaged sports life style injuries or tropical diseases from 3rd world holidays.

Oh well, as long as we keep voting Labor we will be looked after and other muppets taxes will pay for us.

hamishbro's picture
hamishbro's picture
hamishbro commented Wednesday, 18 Sep 2019 at 7:07pm

Jughead, you need a new nickname and a new attitude. What you’re doing to your body is not worth it mate.

mick-free's picture
mick-free's picture
mick-free commented Thursday, 26 Sep 2019 at 1:24pm

Sports injuries cost over $2 billion a year, surfing be hardly a blimp on radar. I guess you going to pay the price if chasing slabs around the world at some stage.

Surprised by the vitriol coming from swellnet punters above. Not one message of get well or wishes for a good recovery. That has surprised me.

Mick Free FIFOFOMO

Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong commented Thursday, 26 Sep 2019 at 6:53pm

I wished him good luck!!!

bongsalot's picture
bongsalot's picture
bongsalot commented Thursday, 26 Sep 2019 at 1:39pm

why should we be sorry? he injured himself once, then decided to do it again? then even stupider decided to fly home?..couldve killed himself 3 times..might say alot about the intellect or mentality of the big wave chargers

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 26 Sep 2019 at 1:41pm

Ease up mate, he didn't know what he'd done to his back till afterwards.

Like Mick, I found the commentary strangely conservative.