Sliced Short -- 11/28/99

"uji" pic of the damage (no surf shots)

Sunday's forecast was for smaller waves and stronger winds. No matter--we were going anyway. Buddy picked me up early in the morn, and we met up with Justin at Laniakea parking lot. Amazingly, the winds were nonexistent and the surf looked decent (but not huge).

Buddy and I were the first in the water, with Justin right on our heels (no pun intended). I was looking forward to riding my tanker, which I hadn't busted out for months (and never used in size), Buddy, of course, was on his tiny 6'4", and Justin became the token sponger in the lineup.

It's such a good feeling paddling out to an empty lineup with waves peeling away, unridden in the semi-darkness. The anticipation is so monumental, that it's hard to describe. I guess you just have to be there to really understand.

I got ahead of Buddy, and found myself in good position for a set wave, maybe 1.5oh. I got in a bit late, planted my feet firmly on the deck, and swooped in comfortably. I had to delay my bottom turn ever so slightly, to get around a duck-diving Buddy, nearly slicing his heels in the process. Little did I realize... Anyway, got on the shoulder of the wave and did some feel-good S-turns, before kicking out in the middle peak area. Stoked to get a solid one under my belt--board worked fine in the bigger waves and I still worked standing up.

Immediately afterwards, the pack converged, as people paddled out in droves. Buddy told me to check out the parking lot, and when I glanced over, it was already full! Glad we at least had it to ourselves for a little while.

Our little crew all managed to snag a few here and there in the busy lineup. Buddy did his usual inside bowl attack, Justin caught some nice NE peaks, and I caught some smaller ones. The waves seemed to be a little on the decline, but at least the wind was holding up nicely.

Soon afterwards, I saw Buddy stroke into a sweet peak. He just managed to get over the ledge as the crowd hooted some encouragement. F#*@'in Buddy snagged a nice one, I thought. Looking towards shore, I watched for the inevitable fan that proceeded nearly every one of Buddy's takeoffs.

Instead, the next thing I saw was Buddy flying out of the wave, like he did a top-turn midair and got blown out the back. After splashdown, Buddy immediately flipped his board over. Odd, I thought. He must've ran over something, then kicked out. I turned back towards the horizon and scouted for a wave for myself.

Soon afterwards, here comes Buddy, straight at me. Damn, he must have some equipment problems, I thought. It was worse, much worse. He showed me a cut on his heel that he incurred from his fin. I'm not one who is easily turned by blood, but I immediately winced when seeing the damage. A semicircular surgical incision was freakishly performed on the heel of his left foot from one of the fins while he and his board was midair.

Buddy was dismissing the cut as "minor" and "painless". I think he was more concerned about cutting my surf session short, rather than thinking about his well-being. After much pressing (and getting similar opinions from others in the lineup), he finally agreed to go in. His last wave was pretty nice, with Buddy just throwing buckets on a head-higher--guess the cut didn't hamper his wave riding at all.

While waiting for one myself, I noticed a couple of "dorsal fins" just outside the lineup, but dismissed them as maybe a stingray's wingtips. I glanced over later, and saw some form in its place, probably a turtle. No big deal. Caught a funky left and kookily rode it in. Justin came in right behind me.

Once inside, I surveyed the damage on Buddy's heel. Ewwww! The blood was starting to coagulate and the cut itself was swollen like a bad bunion. I peeled back the cut to see how deep the wound really was, and stopped when I realized I was pulling up not just skin, but meat.

When Justin came in, he said that the form that I saw in the water wasn't a stingray, but a shark. He saw a large shadow underneath, maybe six feet in length. Damned Buddy was chumming for mano! Being hapa-haole, made it worse--sharks like white (or yellow-white) meat mo' betta'! Good thing we came in.

Buddy really felt bad about cutting our session short since this was my only surf for the week. Damn, I'd feel worse if something more were to happen. What if the cut got infected? What if the damage worsened? What if that shark smelled his feet? (Said with a semi-humorous/semi-serious attitude)

Anyway, when all was said and done, Buddy sported eight stitches in his heel and was very fortunate to have not severed his Achilles' heel (tendon). (Shudder!) Knowing Bud, I know that he'll be back in business in no time flat. I think I better give him a nice, soft bodyboard to ride before he *really* hurts himself.

Aloha from Paradise,