Over the decades, there have certainly been thousands of gruesome accidents of unspeakable damage among our ranks. Nevertheless, outside of death, the following five incidents stand as the most notorious surfing tragedies of modern time.

MARTIN POTTER, 1997, Burleigh Heads, Australia Pulled into the tube at Burleigh Heads on a 5-footer, wiped out, and the nose of his board pierced his stomach on the left side. Six inches of the nose actually snapped off, and cut him deeply – intestines were literally coming out of the hole – for a total of 40 stitches and three months out of the water.

STEVE “BEAVER” MASSFELLER, 1983, Pipeline Masters, Hawaii Looked like a routine wipeout on an 8-footer, but Beaver went head first into the reef and was pulled out of the water unconscious some minutes later; airlifted off the beach with massive skull fracture over his right eye requiring a steel plate. To this day he has problems with his sight, memory and speech. In ’87, however, he returned to the North Shore to surf. DEREK HYND, 1980, Hang Ten Pro, Durban, South Africa DH kicked out from a small wave near shore, the board bounced away, DH turned toward shore and the board bounced back and finned him in the right cheekbone and eye. The best eye surgeon in South Africa was called in, the eyeball was sewed back up (early diagnosis was to pull the eyeball out altogether), but the operation didn’t work. Hynd that year was rated No.12. The following year, ’81, one-eyed, he was rated No. 7.

TITUS KINIMAKA, Christmas Day, 1989, Waimea, Hawaii Titus pulled into the tube on an 18-footer, got hit by the lip and broke his right femur, near the hip. Kinimaka went into shock while floating and had to wait in the channel, supported by a small group of surfers for about 45 minutes before the rescue helicopter arrived. Several hours of surgery required. Titus was back in the water by late March.

TOM CARROLL, 1987, Niijima Beach, Japan During a pre-contest shorebreak re-entry, TC's board stuck in the sand nose first and his back foot slipped off sending the fin straight up his ass, resulting in 13 stitches – eight internal (eeeeww!), five external. It gets worse. Doctors gave him an especially strong anti-bacterial liquid to keep the area clean, except all the instructions were in Japanese. Tom poured it on the area directly, causing his entire scrotum to blister horribly within minutes. He then had to run out on the streets of Japan, trying to get some help for his burning sack, and the only way he could communicate is by pointing toward the injured region. (Sit back and ponder that image for a second.) Later found out you were supposed to dilute the stuff 1 to {{{100}}}.

thanks to Matt Warshaw and his Encyclopedia of Surfing for helping research these stories.

For a full feature on how today’s high-risk surfing is leading to more injuries – not to mention more painful injuries – plus suggestions on how to avoid getting hurt, check out the “Impact Zones” in the May issue of Surfing, currently on newsstands.