BLESSINGS FROM THE HELMINATOR: I received this uplifting email from Ray Hollowell, a photographer from Hawaii. Read this and then contrast it to last weeks Big Rock debacle. Ray’s story puts life’s petty dramas into proper perspective.

The following is directly from Ray’s email, with my edit to fit this format (apologies Ray):

“On December 31st of 2002 I was out at Pipeline shooting video from the water. My good friends Hugh Gentry and Larry Haynes were with me. The waves were 6-to-10 feet, and occasionally a second reef set rolled through. One of the lowest tides of the year made it even more dangerous than normal.

A second reef set caught me in the pit. I tried to get under the first one, but it was so shallow that it picked me up off the bottom and worked me. I finally surfaced and managed to get a couple of breaths before the next big wall of whitewater hit me. I knew I was in a really shallow area and that I had no space to dive. I took the wave on the head. I was then driven–head and shoulder first–into the reef. The impact knocked me unconscious and from what I’ve heard, a few more bombs cleaned my clock. I literally filled up with saltwater and floated facedown.

Hugh had gone in, but Larry had managed to get under the set waves. He noticed my orange camera floating–without me attached. Larry spotted my floating body and swam furiously toward me. I was bloated and unconscious. Larry swam me in and squeezing my stomach he managed to get some water and foam to ooze from my nose and mouth.

Anthony Empting paddled over on his surfboard and helped, as did Raimana Van Bastolear from Tahiti, Sylvio Mancusi from Brazil, and Hiro from Japan. North Shore lifeguard Tau Hannemann sprinted down the beach from the another rescue, and jumped in to help get me to shore, as did Hugh Gentry.

Veteran North Shore lifeguards, Fred Asmus, Mark Dombroski and others pumped more water out of me than any drowning victim they’d ever encountered. They thought I was dead, as I had no pulse! After pumping what seemed like a keg of saltwater out of me, they heard me gurgle and realized I was still alive. The lifeguards gave me oxygen and I came to for a second or two. All I remember is my friend Hugh Gentry yelling in my face, “RAY! RAY!” I responded by asking, “Did I get the shot?” I was transported, via ambulance, to Wahiawa General.

The next few days I experienced pain like I’ve never imagined. I had two brain contusions, a collarbone broken in four places, two broken ribs, a bruised lung and chemical pneumonia. I managed to recovery from the chemical pneumonia, which in most cases is deadly. I’m probably going to have to get surgery on my collarbone, but only time will tell.

The medical staff said that if I wasn’t wearing a helmet, I would have probably died instantly from the blow to my head. Everyone who participated in my rescue, including the medical staff, said it was a miracle that I lived to talk about this experience. I feel God has given me yet another lease on life and obviously my mission is not over. I sincerely thank my friends, North Shore lifeguards and medical professionals that participated in saving my life that fateful day at Pipe. Most of all, I want to thank God for allowing me to have another chance in the game of life. I’ll never think twice about wearing my helmet!–Aloha Ray”

WAIT AND SEE TV: “T-Street” is a new reality television series that follows a group of San Clemente locals as they struggle to themselves produce an action sport magazine show for television. Following the lead of other reality shows, all six personalities live together in a house at, you guessed it, T-street. Surfer magazine’s own Jason Kenworthy is one of the six protagonists. Model/Actress Randee Lerma is also involved. Tip to producers: The more Randee the better.

HEADHUNTER FOR WAVEHUNTERS: Henry at Wavehunters just sent this to me one minute ago, so it is hot, hot, hot. His company, Wavehunters Surf Travel, is looking to hire one or two travel consultants, either
part or full time, minimum 20 hours per week, to work in our Oceanside, CA office. Requirements: EXTENSIVE surf travel and/or dive travel experience in the following areas: South Pacific, Indonesia/Maldives region, Latin America, Hawaii, etc.. Customer service oriented and extremely friendly.
Prefer prior experience in the travel industry, surf industry, sales or marketing. Lucrative travel benefits and flexible scheduling. Please fax resume including references to 760-433-4476.