Kalani Chapman Almost Drowns at Pipe

Veteran charger gets rushed to the hospital after a wipeout during the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout

In the final heat of the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout on Friday, veteran Pipe specialist Kalani Chapman picked off a Second Reef roll in, easing through as the wave stood up on First Reef in front of him–a mean, ledging double-up section–and pulled into a wide, dry-reef section. But as the wave approached Ehukai, Chapman came unstuck and went down hard.

As the wave passed, Chapman didn’t come up. Water patrol, along with fellow competitors Nathan Florence and Seth Moniz, circled his board, which was floating just outside the impact zone and still attached to Chapman’s unconscious body. With the help of Moniz and Florence, as well as several other onlookers, Chapman was brought to the beach where lifeguards immediately began working to revive him. After reviving him, lifeguards and emergency medics loaded Chapman into an ambulance and took him to the hospital. According to those near him, he was coherent and awake by the time the ambulance left for the hospital.

Lifeguards, paramedics, and locals help carry Kalani Chapman to a waiting ambulance.

Lifeguards, paramedics, and locals help carry Kalani Chapman to a waiting ambulance.

“Really grateful to hear Kalani Chapman survived a near drowning to day at Pipeline after a head injury from his board,” Chapman’s close friend, Ian Walsh, wrote. “Incredible work Hawaiian Water Patrol, Seth Moniz, Nathan Florence, Cully Chestnut, and everyone else involved to react quickly and help save one of our own.”

“It’s heavy when someone you consider a superhero goes through something like that,” Torrey Meister said. “Life is so precious. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have Kalani still with us.”

On Saturday morning, close friends reported Chapman is fast on the road to recovery. According to Jamie O’Brien, “[Kalani] is in stable condition and doing good, looking to make a full recovery.”

A photo posted by Jamie O'Brien (@whoisjob) on

Chapman’s close call will be a reminder of last year’s near tragedies, with Bede Durbidge, Owen Wright, and most certainly Evan Geiselman, who’s knockout occurred at nearly the same spot on Pipeline’s fabled reef.