6 Keys To Surviving Monster Surf
Just as Carlos Burle and Maya Gabeira are making news in Portugal with their big-wave bravado, the new issue of ESPN The Magazine, on newsstands now, features six tips to surviving the heavy stuff. Here's a preview, as told to The Mag's Carmen R. Thompson.
"The most dangerous time to be nervous is when you paddle for a wave. You have to be ahead of it and get reasonable speed to catch it from the right place. If you hesitate, you are late, and thats when you get bad wipeouts."
Ken "Skindog" Collins
"Out in the water, when you see a big set coming in, start your breathing technique. Blow out all of your air -- every ounce that you can. Then take a fresh breath and blow it all the way out again. Do that a few times until you feel a little dizzy."
"I was held under a long time when a second wave knocked the wind out of me, leaving me unconscious. I technically drowned. My water-safety team found me and gave me CPR. So if somebody wipes out, take a moment to make sure they're okay."
"Some days I sit on the beach and don't like how I feel or what I see. Something just isn't right. When I was younger, going out was about bravado. But now I'm like, 'Know what? I'm cool. I'll sit this one out.' Confidence comes and goes; you just have to capitalize on the moments when you're feeling good."
"My ritual now is to study surf spots and anatomy of swells. Im like an amateur meteorologist, checking weather and wave websites. I look at the interval, size, direction. Is the swell building or dropping? I think about every element I can before I go."
"The biggest challenge is staying calm in a wipeout. It's hard to relax because it's so chaotic. You have to hold your breath underwater for a while -- however long that is, it feels tripled. If you're panicking and still not up, you'll see black and white dots from a lack of oxygen. Your brain is telling you to come up for air, but you can't."