About the inevitable in our transit through life.
Our life is a journey which begins and ends. Surfing and kitesurfing – a path.
The path that leads to our world, the one of waves and the wind.
It is more than evident, with a blog’s entry name as such, you can achieve little positioning in SEO, unless it is applied in the philosophy section, at most … so we should better go to the topic and let it unfold by itself.
We’ll start with the first thing, surfing. The undeniable magic of going down a wave, and, logically, the bigger the wave, the more magic …
It seemed an inconceivable notion that someone like McNamara, one of the “Godfathers” of surfing big waves, one day, would be challenged this way. In fact, if you think better, all in life it’s inevitable.
McNamara, is a Hawaiian resident, Garrett for name. Garrett was on the lineup the day that Laird Hamilton, who was once the most influential ambassador of the sport of surfing, was towed for the first time into a real big wave.
That fact marked an era and a new challenge, that of being able to ride off waves so big and fast that you could only access them if you were towed by a wave runner device. McNamara saw in that modality his future and afterward came the successes and several recognized records in catching big waves around the world, including having rided a wave of 78 feet – the largest ever officially measured – that was off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal.
Garrett McNamara – the biggest wave record
Big wave surfers have this extra feeling that makes them trust themselves completely. But in recent years, especially as 2016 approached, the rush of adrenaline that McNamara, then 48, felt when he faced the wave wall had almost vanished altogether.
I have put myself in a too comfortable plan, “Garrett said. I was starting to feel less and less motivated every time I got in the water. I started riding big waves because of the feeling that it offered me, but now that feeling is nonexistent. I can not imagine why I still have to complicate my life and force myself to lower these giant waves. ”
McNamara even thought about retiring despite having a long list of sponsors, could continue to earn money to support his family without risking his life. However, McNamara was still excited every time he heard of an impending swell approaching his island in Hawaii or anywhere else in the world where big waves break.
Like any other surfer in the world and like all big-wave surfers, McNamara consults weather maps several times a day.
It was then that he recognized an ideal set of conditions last January in Mavericks, the big-wave mecca on the California coast south of San Francisco, Garrett knew immediately that he had to be there.
The day of the accident – everything starts to change
Garrett, goes to the water equipped with a survival suit that admits the possibility of being inflated if necessary to keep him afloat if he falls unconscious. McNamara paddled one more wave of the thousands of waves in his life as if it were one more wave. That wave, on January 7th, would alter the life of McNamara and the future of surfing.
At a third of the wave face down, McNamara lost his balance and was catapulted from his board, bouncing like a rock along the wave’s wall. In the end, the lip of the wave broke on him.
McNamara attributed his fall to his excessively straight posture he carried on the surfboard, which prevented him from absorbing the momentum of the wave.
After the terrible impact of the wave against his body, McNamara suffered a fracture of four parts of the humerus bone of his left arm.
His shoulder after going through a delicate surgical operation is stabilized with a metal plate and a series of metal screws, and although the injury was the worst of his career, McNamara was informed that if he started doing rehabilitation immediately, he could be back in the water again in about six months.
The wave in question. Surviving it was already a success
Several complications arose during the rehabilitation period. A bone in the back of his humerus rose 2 centimeters out of position, and the head of the humerus came out of its natural position. This caused the main nerve of the deltoid muscle, which keeps the shoulder in place, to be significantly damaged.
A week after McNamara’s initial surgery in mid-January, his shoulder broke again.
The medical team that handled the Garrett case thought that it was better not to try to repair the nerve and only give it time to see if it recovered by itself.
There was a chance that McNamara’s shoulder would not fit again for surfing. After a one-hour procedure, McNamara’s left arm was tied into a pulley system. The machine kept its arm in a constant state of movement and helped slow the growth of scar tissue.
The pain was endless during the first three months but the prolonged recovery managed to recover shoulder and arm, although it had a price: it also changed Garrett’s point of view on surfing. “For the first time in my life, I did not have this need to catch waves,” said McNamara.
“We were having the biggest winter we’ve ever had in Hawaii’s surf history, and it did not really matter to me.”
However, he did not settle for his body to heal in its own way. McNamara worked the same way in his recovery with an anxiety that for others seemed manic. Even in mid-recovery, during a trip to Malibu, California, in June, McNamara rode a few small waves. “I did not have to do it, anyway, but it made me feel better.”
After that confidence boost, he doubled his rehabilitation efforts in August, meeting daily with Daniel Bachmann, a trainer whose specialty is shoulder mobility and mechanics. By December, the range of motion of his left shoulder was barely 80 percent.
Garrett during his recovery reflects on surfing after the wildest wipeout of his life
Each big wave surfer has at least one epic story to tell. You fall in a wave and in that giant washing machine, the air is running out at some point, then you get out of the wave, your confidence recovers without forgetting what you just happened but you know that you have to go back down waves. If you wait too long, the fear inside you builds up. ”
That’s why McNamara quickly accepted an invitation to the inaugural event of the World Surf League on Big Wave Tour in Nazaré, which began in October. The place, in a village in the center of Portugal, McNamara knows the wave very well, has dropped it many times and for a long time Garrett has been revered in the country.
Jamie Mitchell of Australia won the highest honors in Nazaré when the contest ended at the end of December. McNamara was not fit, nor sure enough, to compete. Rather, it helped to organize the event.
“I still do not feel comfortable enough riding any wave bigger than 20 feet,” said McNamara. “I recently went out in a big wave and suddenly I noticed that I was scared. I kept thinking: What if I would hurt myself again?
Surfing has largely defined Garrett McNamara’s life, and those around him were worried about what it would be of Garrett without the same passion that had moved his life?.
In the words of his wife, Nicole: “I was worried about his mental health if he did not go back to surfing”. “He has always told me that he will work wood, as a carpenter when he can no longer surf, but he has never done anything for me in wood.”
McNamara hopes to return to Mavericks on the anniversary of his accident. After the accident, he continues investigating the weather maps on a daily basis, so on Wednesday, three days before the anniversary of the accident, he will decide to risk his health to join the other big wave riders in the water.
For Garrett McNamara, understand how his life changed forever was important for his recovery. I could go out and if I like a wave, catch it but if I do not like it avoid it and yet all went well, nothing happened to me and I felt not especially guity for not catching it.
Somehow, I also feel that the wave that knocked me down and changed my life this last year was perhaps the best thing that happened to me. He forced me to see life from another perspective
The question I ask myself, says Garrett, is why am I still doing this? I have not had enough yet?
What was a challenge, to look for that emotion that I felt when I started to lose waves, still being there? Is there a why in all this? When should we drop anchor ?
And our man says: “Now I know that I have to value even more when I used to lower each wave, but inwardly I did not really value it. Now I would like to find out if I still have the rush to catch big waves after this wipe out.
I hope that I will still be able.
Time will tell. Really, it would be great! …
The recoil of a firearm
You do not need to have shot a gun – I, like almost any other Spanish person, have never shot one – but to imagine it, should not need a lot of imagination, yes, it must exist some recoil.
Something similar happens in our brain at some point when, after many years of challenging radical wind and sea conditions, day after day, one day you find asking yourself why do you do it.
This report about Garrett, fell on my hands few days ago, and, it was in a moment, without knowing how or why, in which I saw reflected myself on it, saving the differences.
Nothing further from my intention that to compare myself with Garrett neither at a sporting level nor at any other level, he is himself, and I am myself …
Garrett, is a big waves surfer. Me, a bit of everything, a surfer and a windsurfer from 1974, and a kitesurfer in the end, from 1997 until today.
Garrett is a famous person. Me, well, some good friends know my Waterman’s resume and that’s it.
Garrett has a family. I don’t even have a puppy to bark at me.
Garrett, a waterman. Me too, although not because of the fact of living in other place than Hawaii one does not deserve that name. The one who makes bread, a baker …
Garrett, 48. Me, 64. Garrett has suffered a serious accident that has opened his eyes. I have not suffered anything … but this has not been necessary because the feeling, strangely, even before having read his report, come to me in the same way and with the same intensity.
The answer which comes to me is: Is there anything beyond kitesurfing?
After 44 years of being a waterman. With no fame, without public recognition, just my recognition, which is, after all, what really matters to me. What has been my life? my thousands hours on the water?
Surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing. On any wind condition, in any country, any month, on any day of any year … of the last 44 years.
Without children, without a woman, no mortgage to pay or already paid, often, even without a steady job. Dragged by my hobby, moved by my urge for freedom, the call to live as I choose to do, as I have lived all those years.
Without much economic success but without betraying myself neither. Doing what my heart told me to do, with a calm conscience, and my pockets, in contrast, without that much calm, of course, but with the certainty that I was doing what I liked.
How would it have been otherwise? What would have happened to me if I had ignored the internal call and done what I was expected to do: have a normal job, any job, far from the sea, in a city. Waiting for the weekend to arrive to go to practice my sport or wait for the summer holidays …
Well, I guess I will never know, because when I had to take this decision, I opted for not to betray myself and do what my heart told me to do. In the same way that the question appeared to Garrett … it also appeared to me.
Above this lines the author in the performance of his duties
What am I doing? why I do risk myself again and again, on this strong winds whipping me in the face: Is this really what I want? I want the risk? Is the need of adrenaline?
… and on the other hand, what else is there? if this is what I have been doing for the last 44 years, every day … What if I do not go kitesurfing today? Will I feel better later? I’m going perhaps to feel worse?
Do I betray myself if I do not kitesurf today in these wild 35 knots? … Am I betraying myself if I do not go sailing today? What if I smash myself kitesurfing? What a dilemma? Has my time arrived? The Garrett syndrome has reached me too? …
I do not know … I guess I’ll have to tell you tomorrow, because … right now the wind is blowing and I think I’m going for one more ride …
Me, and my circumstance … Is it time to become philosophical now? … with that wind blowing out there? I am afraid not …