The importance of risk management in big wave surfing

November 25, 2013 | Surfing
Big wave surfing: train and share knowledge | Photo: Tony Canadas/Mavericks Invitational

Surfers have lost lives in the big surf. A new generation of giant wave riders is improving their safety levels and helping others survive in extreme ocean conditions.

How many hazards can you find in the surf? The Big Wave Safety Summit held on the North Shore of Oahu, alerted us to a wide number of dangerous examples. Some of them we hardly take into consideration when battling the swells.

Tides, currents, shore break, rocks, cliffs, reef/coral, fog, smog, kelp, lightning, sharks, power boats, piers, fish nets, floating objects, backwash, mud, and chemicals are only a small number of adversities out there in the line-up.

Then, in big wave surfing scenarios, add the power and strength of the massive walls of salted water. The overall result is a serious, life-threatening stage.

Brian Keaulana, the iconic lifeguard, surfer, and surf rescue expert, has shared important knowledge regarding big wave safety with a packed class of high-profile surfer students.

"The more knowledge you get, the more calculated you can be. That's what risk management is all about. Not listening to your emotions, but training and hitting the numbers on how you train", Keaulana says.

Today, big wave surfing has better gear, but you must know how to use that new technology. Otherwise, you'll be "enhancing stupidity. In big wave surfing, the risks are so high you have to be dependant".

Kohl Christensen showed students how lives could be saved with basic and intermediate techniques, such as CPR and quick jet ski rescue.

Spreading knowledge is saving lives, too. Know before you go, and teach others how to dramatically reduce risks in big wave surfing.

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