Pro surfer recalls what it feels like to wipeout at Mavericks

While surfing fans love to watch videos of wipeouts, every now and then one comes along that is so intense it makes you cringe. Pro surfer Garrett McNamara experienced a fall like that firsthand Thursday at the renowned Central Californian big-wave surf spot Mavericks, and lived to tell the story.

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“You know, I’ve had so many horrendous wipeouts in my career, and normally I’ve walked away from them without a scratch. In fact, I’ve kind of enjoyed them,” the 48-year-old McNamara told GrindTV.

“The one thing I’ve always said is that when you get hurt, that’s when a wipeout is not much fun. So yeah, that one wasn’t much fun.”

In a clip uploaded Thursday to YouTube that has since been viewed over 400,000 times, McNamara can be seen losing balance while bombing down a towering wave before his body goes violently skipping along the wave face. His initial impact had a devastating effect on his body.

A million thank yous for everyone who has been sending positive vibes. Everything went well and is put back together and doctors expect a 110% recovery. I want to send a special thank you to everyone out at Mavs who helped get me to safety #ionbanner @powerlinesproductions @frank_quirarte_photo @patoteixeira @nicvaughan1 the harbor master and his crew @grillson415 thank you to everyone at San Mateo General Hospital for accommodating me and my family. A billion thank yous to my brother @liam__mcnamara for making sure I wasn’t alone and finding amazing doctors to work on me. @sean_mcnamara13 for taking great care of me. Words cannot express my gratitude to @dansolly90 and #marklawler for putting me back together!!! Love you all and will see you in the water soon !!! An extra special thank you @frank_quirarte_photo for taking care of my wife, barrel and I all day yesterday. You are an incredible human.

A photo posted by GARRETT McNAMARA (@mcnamara_s) on

“This wave got me good,” McNamara said. “When I hit the water the first time, I hit it with so much force that humerus my (arm) bone snapped clear off at my shoulder socket.

“Then when they brought the jet skis out to rescue me, I couldn’t pull myself up onto it. It was such an odd feeling having my arm be completely useless; I felt like I had this foreign object attached to my body.”

After some time, McNamara was rescued out of the water by pro surfer Ion Banner, who pulled McNamara up onto a jet ski before whisking him to shore, where McNamara was taken to the San Mateo General Hospital for emergency surgery.

Now, as he sits with a metal plate in his arm (McNamara jokingly calls himself the “Bionic Man”), he’ll be out of the surf for at least three months recovering, giving him time to think about the wave and what went wrong.

Garrett Mcnamara injured at Mavericks
McNamara drops into Mavericks, shortly before falling on this wave and injuring himself.

“I just paddled a little short on it and missed it,” McNamara said. “I have a tendency to not paddle as hard as I should, and to just take it easy and relax and enjoy the waves. It ended up biting me in the ass because I got into the wave too late, and with how steep my drop was, one little mistake ended up breaking my arm.”

After he fell, McNamara says he hardly remembers tumbling in the wave. He said that being unable to get out of the impact zone because of his incapacitated arm resulted in him getting hit by somewhere near 30 more waves before he was out of the surf, and that the biggest memory he had was just how much pain he was in.

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, McNamara said he isn’t going to let the injury keep him away from Mavericks.

“Yeah, I’ll definitely be back at Mavericks in no time,” said McNamara. “I’m just going to make sure to paddle a little extra and make the wave next time.”

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