Rob Bain recovers after dangerous wipeout at North Avalon

October 26, 2009 | Surfing
Rob Bain

Rob Bain from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, a former Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour surfer, prominent through the 1980s and early 1990s with four ASP world tour wins (IMB/Wollongong, Garden State Pro/New Jersey, Instinct Pro Ericeira Portugal, and Coke Classic Narrabeen Australia) and the highest rating of 5th in 1990, suffered a horrific wipe just under two weeks ago while surfing North Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches, sustaining serious head, neck and back injuries – He almost died!

A serious injury, to say the least, Bainy is back on the slow road to recovery and will be in a body and neck cast combo for some time.

ASP Australasia caught up with Bainy briefly to assess his recovery.

How's your recovery going?

My first appointment is 4 weeks from the accident and then they will assess how long I need to be in the body and neck cast. Anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks or more.

They said no surfing for 5 months but we will see how it progresses. I have fractured vertebrae in my neck and 5 in my thoracic spine. I have compressed 3 discs also in my thoracic, as well as a broken rib.

My head is healing together, as I had scalped myself needing over 50 internal stitches and 50 external staples.

How long before you’re back in the water?

Maybe 6 months at this stage. Have to wait and see.

You've had some heavy situations in the past the Wiamea close-out session... but this the heaviest surfing accident you've had?

I have been trapped under my hut in G’LAND (Indonesia) tsunami in 94( waking up trapped underwater), I have had the Wiamea closeout, been hanged upside down from Huntington pier in a big swell, speared in the head in Hawaii by my board underwater and nearly drowned, so there’s been a few.

My wife said the other day, how many do I think I’ve got left?

This one though was by far the scariest one that I have had, due to the injuries and the force in which I smashed my head into the rock underwater.

What actually happened at North Avalon?

I was surfing with my son and a bunch of locals including Bruce Raymond. Bruce and I paddled for a wave up inside on the reef, and I was inside so Bruce pulled back, and off I went down the line.

It was a fun wave and I ended up doing a long floater and landing in shallow water.

I misjudged where I was on the reef and dived off into the wave face at the bottom and instantly underwater smashed full force with my head into the rock.

When I hit I felt an electric shock go off through my back as I broke stuff, and felt the top of my head get smashed and ripped open. I knew I couldn’t pass out though.

I broke the surface and was in a bad way, as I felt the top of my head peeled off and couldn’t breathe properly. I felt as though I was going to shut down.

I looked up to the North Avalon stairs and saw my wife there, with other people and I waved to her.

I started to scream for help, as I was worried about passing out. Some local surfers helped get me up the beach and my wife was in my face telling me I was going to be OK and to keep straight and not move etc.

It was scary as hell, and I actually was worried at the beginning I was going to die. I didn’t know how bad I was at that point, and anyone who had seen my head was really worried.

My son came in and held my hand, as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I was taken to Mona Vale and onto Royal North Shore trauma ward for the next week.

I would like to thank the local surfers, lifeguards, and ambulance guys for acting fast and with great knowledge, and also my wife who was a rock and has the unfortunate task of still helping me out at present.

I will be back, but I will be careful diving off my board. I was very lucky in the end, and it could have been so much worse.