If you’ve ever come along for a surf lesson with us you’ll know we are pretty anal when it comes to safety. We see a lot of people glaze over when we start talking about safety but it’s a necessary evil.
But you must protect your head when you are surfing.
On your first lesson with us you will hear us talk about how to protect your head when you wipeout several times. In fact we mention it within the first five minutes of the lesson, before you’ve even got your toes wet, then reinforce it at least a further three times before the lesson is finished.
It’s one of the basics of surf coaching and it’s why we have a great record with safety at the surf school.
So how do you protect your head when you wipeout?
You put one arm over the top of your head and wrap your other arm around the back of your head and neck – simple, but the most effective way of protecting your self from your own or other people surfboards when you are in the water.
So far so good.
Except the other day I just didn’t do it. I guess I just got a bit blasé with the whole thing. The surf was fun, the sun was out and I didn’t have a care in the world.
I caught a wave: nothing special, not very big, nothing to worry about.
Underwater I felt my surfboard belt me right across the crown of my head. I surfaced, pulled my wetsuit hood down and something strange happened.
Everything went red.
Now one of the things about getting a cut in the sea is that it always looks worse than it is. Blood just runs everywhere and it looks really gory but actually it’s only a tiny amount of blood.
This time it looked like there was gallons of the stuff. A mate of mine, Jake, paddled over. Now Jake is prone to understatement so when he said ‘I’m taking you to hospital’ I knew it was a good idea.
A short while later and I had seven stitches in my head and was facing the prospect of at least a week out of the sea.
And all because I didn’t take the advice that is dished out in every single lesson we do.
But I’ve actually learnt three lessons this week.
One: protect your head on every wipeout, no matter how innocuous. You’d be an idiot not to.
Two: always surf with a buddy. If I was surfing on my own then I could have been in some serious trouble.
Three: there are a lot of surfers working in the NHS. At least three doctors and one nurse popped their heads around the curtain of my booth and asked me where I had been surfing, what tide was best and how well it handles a South-Westerly gale!