Professional surfer Tom Dosland is used to gigantic surf breaks but none quite like the one he was sent free-falling from on Wednesday in Hawaii’s Pea’hi.
The Aloha state has been hit by enormous waves thanks to this year’s El Nino, sending even the most seasoned surfers tumbling as they attempt to navigate down the near vertical slopes.
In what has become a viral video sensation – social media has termed it the “craziest wipeout ever captured on film” – Dosland is sent airborne from a 40-foot monster wave.
Recounting the experience to Surfer Mag, Dosland likened the intense force to “being in a car crash”.
He said he was actually blinded for a few seconds because of the strong sea spray before falling.
“It looked like a sea monster rising out of the ocean when it came my way. But, I was going. No matter what. So, I flipped around and started paddling to get into it.”
You can’t really tell from the video, but there was some wind blowing spray up the face as I was about to drop in, which pretty much blinded me for a few seconds. I could only see out of one eye and only partially.”
I was free-falling for a while. It felt like I jumped off a cliff. That’s when my leash stretched out all the way and flipped me over head-first. From there, I hit the face and it was just a brutal beating, like I was in a car crash.”
Kelly Slater saves baby
The powerful waves were even enough to force 11-time world champion Kelly Slater on a walk of shame.
Unable to paddle out past the enormous breaks, he returned to shore, fortunately putting him in place for a dramatic rescue of an Australian mother and baby.
Sarah Whitey was pushing her toddler, Van, in a stroller on a sidewalk when they were knocked over by a large wave and swept up in a wall of water.
Slater jumped in, grabbed onto the stroller, pulled it upright and helped retrieve Whitey, who had been submerged.
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Well that was fun…Sitting here watching closeout sets roll thru after getting sent to the beach trying to paddle out. First time I've had a #WalkOfShame at #Waimea. I think everyone thought the swell was gonna arrive late but it ended up being easily big enough for #TheEddie today. Probably too big on a few sets, actually. Hope everyone stays safe at #Peahi and outer reefs. Lotta energy out there. #25To30FeetCloseoutWaves #CouldntEvenGetOneAir
The child’s father, photographer Chris Whitey, described the frightening 20 to 30 seconds he couldn’t see either his wife or son and thanked the surfing legend via his Instagram.
He said his family was “a little shaken still, but doing great considering,” and he was “forever grateful to the great man.”
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Thanks everyone for all the well wishes, I'm so fortunate to have so many people that care for my families wellbeing. They're a little shaken still, but doing great considering. The North Shore life guards are something else, they were saving lives all day, whilst endangering their own. When the accident happened I was shooting at Waimea and it was pretty wild with close out sets across the Bay. The guy pictured here ended up getting sucked out the back and towards the rocks without his board. The lifeguards got a ski straight to him and rescued him from a potentially life threatening situation. As a visitor to Hawaii I'm in awe of the quality of watermen that are life guarding – surf legends like Tamega, Skippy, Wassel, Booth the list goes on, they are elite watermen and I'm shocked to hear that they're not looked after better by the Mayor or whoever is calling the shots. Anyway my hats off to Kelly and all the lifeguards over here! Thanks for keeping my family safe and I hope someone listens to your requests with more towers, pay rates and longer hours cos you deserve it.
“It was like a tsunami. The only thing I was thinking of was, ‘I don’t want my son to drown,'” Sarah told Australian broadcaster Seven News. ” I just wanted to keep him up, so I just held onto that pram as long as I could. There was a point where I got bumped and I let go, and that’s when I thought, ‘That’s it.'”