I've never had a bad hold down in serious surf. And I've never broken a board in serious surf, either. It's those thick dumpy ones that do the damage when you're just trying to get your licks in mediocre/medium sized surf... being reckless 'cause, "it's not that big."
My worst hold down was at the inlet one night, it was DOH and a sneak set came, I tried to paddle and make it through it, but never made it and it broke right on top of me, I was out by the end of the rocks and it pushed me all the way to the bottom and pinned my head and shoulder down on the bottom, for what seemed like forever....I came up and was ****in' shook....scared the **** outta me....but I think I learned a lot from the whole experience, definitely humbled me and made me respect the power of the ocean...just glad there wasn't a strong undertow down there otherwise I would have been a goner.
On the East Coast, its more about not smacking the bottom hard, on the shallow sand bars.
But then again, in the winter, when your in top to bottom in rubber, a 5 second hold down seems like forever!
yeah, I've had some scary ones in the winter. I can remember a few sizable VAS sessions in mid winter where a set unloaded on my head... and with all that rubber, being so far offshore and out of breath is really freaky at the moment. But I'm a heavy drinker, a heavy smoker, and have no wind, so they couldn't have been that bad compared to others.
Last solid hold down ive had was in Indonesia at a break called Bawa. Glassy, well overhead and i had been having problems paddling into waves all day - even riding a 7'0" A huge peak peak came right at me - the biggest wave ive ever had a shot at...id say DOH. I knew it was sketchy but it was clean, huge and coming right to me so i had to paddle in. Blew the drop and got held down deep on the reef for a long time then finally had to climbed my leash back to the surface...washed way inside by that time and had to climb up on the reef and walk on jagged lava reef to find a deep paddle out channel. If i hadnt been wearing reef booties my feet would have been cut to ribbons.
About 7 years ago During Hurricane Cindy I was surfing The Cove and it was OH and I started paddling for a wave and I guess I peaked earlier than I antisipated. I got sucked up the face of the wave and fliped upside down . I was held under which felt like a life time I started swimming for what I thought was the surface but since I was all disoriented I was swimming to the bottom and I found that out when my head hit sand. I finally made it up the surface after the set was over and went about my buisness.
Bad one for me: arrived in the DR, partied hard on the plane (free drinks in first) & continued partying into the night in Cabarete. Hooked up with a chica, but still got up at 0700 to hit the surf at Encuentro. I left my gear at home, my buddy said hey rent from a place in the DR, avoid the BS board fees on AA. So, I rented a stick & leash from a s***hole place on the beach, paddled out, 8-10 ft, Encuentro can crank & it was crankin' on this day. I've surfed there many, many times.
Big water, caught a few, was tired from previous night's recreational craziness. Encuentro is a reef break but behaves more like beach break, meaning, you do a lot of paddling once you're out there in order to find the shoulder. Esp on big days, it's always shifting a lot.
Big set coming in & I paddled hard for what seemed like minutes, went up the face & kept going up, thought I had it & was punching through. Very, very wrong. Got sucked over backwards on the board & slammed very hard. Did the full 360 backwards. When I hit I lost all air, just knocked outta me, plus I was so beat from the long paddle trying to make it through that beast. Then the hold down, without air, which I thought would never end. Absolute misery.
Finally, made it up. Board snapped in half, then everything ripped right off - - crappy rental gear, the leash velcro was toast & the leash went too. As soon as I came up, caught a quick breath, but I was heavin', then immediately I got hit again, right on the head. Stuffed under for awhile. Runnin out of air.
My mind started to lose the game.
Yep. First time in my life. Panic. You can say you know what panic is, but until you panic? You have no idea. I'm a good swimmer, been surfing years, boxed competitively, been in a number of street fights, played pro ball, yadda yadda yadda. Just sayin', in other words, I've seen some stuff in this world.
In this case, though, my mind just gave it up. It's impossible to explain. I came up the second time & I distinctly recall trying to climb out of the ocean. 300 yards out from shore. I was trying to climb up & out of the water. Climbing up....on nothing. I recall thinking "that's it, I've had enough, I'm out, I want to take a break, I'm getting out of the water now." It made no sense, totally irrational.
I was so tired, I was literally thinking that I can't make that swim to shore.
My buddy Eric was about 40 feet away & he yelled "are you ok?" He said later I had a wild, crazy look on my face. I shouted "no, help me out! " He paddled hard to get to me, and nearly didn't make it, cause he got slammed a couple times by large waves.
Finally got to me. The longest 60 seconds of my life was trying to get to him and him trying to get to me. I was swallowing salt water. So tired.
He got to me & I flopped on his board & he kicked & pushed us in to shore, all the while getting hit by more large waves.
Best feeling in the world ? Dirt underfoot when I could finally stand up in 6 feet of water near shore. I fell out & just lay on the beach for an hour, heart going insanely fast, splitting headache, coughing up salt water. No doubt I owe Eric my life.
Now....y'all could rip me.....or make snide comments.....maybe I deserve it, but I don't think so even though it was my own damn fault. I learned a lot that day about the ocean's power, my own stupidity in not being prepared & about panic. Just passing this along to you in the 'what it's worth category.'
BTW, look up dry drowning. A doc friend of mine told me that most near-drowning victims die on the beach from dry drowning or from a heart attack. Said I was a lucky fella that day.
(Oh, and I had to pay the rental hole $ 400.00 usd for damaging their crappy equipment. I ALWAYS bring my own gear after that episode. Another lesson learned.)
First time in my life. Panic. You can say you know what panic is, but until you panic? You have no idea.
He said later I had a wild, crazy look on my face.
Other guards here (I'm sure there's more than a few) know exactly what you're saying. When you're swimming or paddling out to a victim, and you see that look, you know you've GOT to get to that person immediately. That's the look somebody gets right before they go down. You don't want to see that look... it means you're going to have to mark their spot, and go down and start feeling around for them.
You came very close, brother. Your friend most likely saved your life.
You came very close, brother. Your friend most likely saved your life.
Yes, that's true indeed. Eric did save my life, of that I've no doubt. I had absolutely nothing left in the tank.
I now understand why guards have to be very careful when approaching drowning swimmers. As you say.
I was behaving totally irrationally, and I knew it (and that's the craziest thing) and even though I knew I was doing strangeness ....I couldn't stop it. Very vivid, to this day, and this happened back in 2007.
Another thing I learned: there really is a brotherhood in the water. Several surfers, Dominicans, paddled over to see if I was ok. We sometimes get into the f*** you, dog-eat-dog, wave-hoggin' crap that causes stress & resentment. But, I gotta say, on that day, when trouble hit, strangers had my back, as well as my bruddah for life who got me out of hell.