for the OP, I misjudged the current once and paddled out on the wrong side of the frisco pier in a big sketchy day. I'm about 30 yards out when a big old shore break wave walls up in front of me. I paddle as hard as I can but I am just being sucked sideways and into the pilings. I bounced around from piling to piling during a set of 5 or 6 waves. By the time I got through there were two huge dings in my board and I had gotten chewed up pretty bad by the barnacles. Somehow my suit held up even though I had open gashes in my shoulders and arms... doesn't really make sense. The ocean is an unpredictable b*tch.
Once during a giant swell we were in Duck NC at the experimental pier. It was breaking outside the pier and white water on both sides. under the pier was calm and glassy. we thought it a good idea to paddle out there. we were a third way out when this giant set came and was slapping the bottom of the pier. my bud and I left brown sheen as we tried to get out, but couldn't. the wave broke 1/2 way in and the white water spun us like tops. when we came up, we turn around and got in in record time.
I agree that it was not the right situation for a beginner. I am not sure how old the OP is, but when I was younger, I thought I was indestructible, and put myself in tons of situations that were above my skill set. I still have to talk some common sense into myself from time to time now that I am a husband and a father (i.e. the Doomsday Swell in December.) Not condoning it, but don't want to crush this guy either as he seeks advice. Hopefully, it was a learning experience for you and your buddy, and you don't make the same mistake twice. May not get so lucky next time.
Good thing he was ahead of me, or that could have been me... too amped, not cautious enough, and too unfamiliar with the swell angle and currents.
I'm also curious as to where it was that big Sunday. Pretty sure I recall you're another New England guy. I was out on Sunday at a few different spots and it wasn't even in the realm of 8-9 feet (or half that) - you out traveling somewhere?
Regardless of that, while a terrible situation to put yourself and your friend in, it sounds like you learned a lesson (at least I hope you did). I took a pounding trying to cheat and avoid paddling through the shorebreak by jumping off a jetty in RI during a hurricane. Currents can change real quick when the water's moving like that. I took a nice dose of severe board damage (more or less terminal), some nasty lacerations and bruises, and a brutally wounded sense of pride, and I definitely got off lucky. Sounds like you and your buddy did too.
Things didn't work out so well for me or the people around me, but because I am a narcissist I am going to say that my training and awesomeness stopped it from being fatal.
You took a guy out his second time surfing in 5-8 foot conditions?
5 feet is already way too big. Land fitness has nothing to do with it. He knows nothing about the water.
And another thing, how do you expect to play lifeguard when you would be in the same **** as him?
fitness and ability in other sports are not as important as water knowledge