10 Horror Tales from Surfing’s Danger Zones
Remember when that tidal wave hit G-land? Huts washed hundreds of yards inland. Guys waking up in trees. Ritchie Lovett flung from his bed.Remember when the swell came up so fast on the North Shore Woody Brown and Dickie Cross had to paddle to Waimea to make it back in -- except only Woody survived.Remember Laird’s wave at Teahupo’o? Remember Bethany? Remember Foo?

For all its bikini-soaked promises of fun in the sun, surfing’s filled with hundreds of horror tales, dire warnings that what don’t kill you can still take a limb.

There’s Zapatistas and Staph infections. Car wrecks and rip tides. Hell, the monkeys at Uluwatu could pull your arm right out of its socket. The stonefish in Tahiti could steal your life. The tigers at G-land are, well, they’re friggin’ TIGERS!That’s just for starters.

Welcome to SURFING’s Danger Article -- a fresh collection of unhappy memories from the frontlines.

Good luck out there. You’ll need it.


They say the cloud was like something out of a Monty Python movie. People in Newcastle thought it was a bomb blast, because it was so loud. But we didn’t even hear or see anything coming. It was the 1986 Coke trials in Newcastle, a beautiful sunny day, clear skies and small surf. I’d just asked one of the youngsters to watch my backup board while I surfed my heat. And while we were looking at the waves we were struck by lightning. Both of us. I was knocked unconscious, flat on my back. After about fifteen seconds I came around. I felt like I’d put my finger in an electric socket, tingling from head to toe and not knowing what had happened. I heard the loudspeaker say that lightning had struck the beach and they needed help. I walked over to where the little kid was flat on his back. No vital signs. His heart had stopped. Second degree burns on his back. Holes burned through his shoes. Luckily the hospital was just across the road. He spent 10 days on a life support machine in a coma and actually made a {{{100}}}% recovery in a year. I spent the night in the hospital. The ASP had held my heat over hoping I would make a good recovery, which I did. I went on to make the Coke Trials final, and finished third overall.
--Pierre Tostee