I think that there are more surfing accidents (and even fatalities) in smaller surf than in big stuff - maybe newbies haven't learned how to protect themselves (head, neck, etc.) when they fall in shallow water - I've been surfing a loooong time, and I really hurt my rotator cuff a few years ago (playing around, being stoopid and getting careless) in, like, 3-foot surf! man, my shoulder was smashed into the sand, and i saw stars! it took a year before my shoulder finally got back to being totally pain free!