Every year has its harrowing wipeouts that consist of hang-ups to free-fall combos, over-the-falls tosses and lips bearing down like a guillotine’s blade. But rarely is a surfer shot like a cannonball through the air by the sheer impact of a wave’s lip like Andrew “Cotty” Cotton was at Nazaré in the video above. Among the four nominees for this year’s Worst Wipeout of the Year Award, you, our dear readers, have voted in an absolute landslide for Cotty’s back-breaking wipeout. Yep, that wipeout really did break his back.

Cotty’s spill was practically three wipeouts in one; the initial crash of the lip that pitched him in front of the wave, the impact from landing, then getting mowed down by the avalanche of whitewater. Luckily the North Devon, England-based charger, and part-time plumber, is tough as nails and has since made a full recovery. “I’m already looking forward and focusing my energy to get fit and back out there on some more big rollers,” Cotty posted on his Instagram hours after the wave broke his back. Nearly a year after what he calls, “the worst wipeout of his life,” Cotty accomplished his goal, returned to Praia do Norte, Portugal and competed in the WSL’s Big Wave Tour event, the 2018 Nazaré Challenge.

SURFER congratulates Cotty on winning the 2018 Worst Wipeout of the Year Surfer Poll Award and on his recovery.

Be sure to tune in to the live broadcast of the 2018 SURFER Awards tomorrow night, right here on surfer.com.

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