Teenage charger Russell Bierke reportedly took one to the chin this week at a big wave spot near Port Campbell and was knocked unconscious and nearly drowned. Among those rescuing Bierke, who blew minds at last year’s Cape Fear Contest, which he won, was Kelly Slater, having been eliminated in Round 3 at the Bells Beach contest 100 miles to the east.
Slater, along with Benjamin Serrano, Ross Clarke-Jones, Ryan Hipwood and Tom Carroll, swooped in to save the young Australian who had found himself in a serious situation, caught inside after being knocked out by his board and reportedly under water for some 45 seconds. “We were all having a lot of fun,” he told The Standard, an Australian publication. “It was nice and clean and big. It was pretty much what we came for. That was my last wave. I remember saying to the boys I want to go in. I was tired and hungry and wanted to get some food.
“(I’ve been told) I caught a wave and Hippo (Ryan Hipwood) was in the channel and apparently just started screaming. Hippo could just see my board floating then and I think he said another wave passed. It was one of the smaller waves of the session, (one of the) smallest waves we caught all day. It was a freak accident. I don’t really remember but the wave did something big like dropped out and my board must have hit me.”
Serrano then got Bierke on the jetski where Slater apparently assisted in getting him to shore. The 19-year-old was blue when he was brought to shore and didn’t have much recollection of the incident at the hospital after, which thanfulyll ended well. Carroll added color to the situation in an Instagram post:
Always first light & always rare @rcj6666 many many thanks for putting me in the spot for one last solid session before TKR coming up in weeks time. Crisp conditions and playful atmosphere set a deceiving stage for the underlying power Mother Nature pushed into the lineup today. My prayers go out to @russellbierke who took his big wave board to the chin and needed urgent attention. Swift work in the water from @kellyslater @ryanhipwood @benjserrano & Will on the Jetski made it possible for Russ to make the long ride safely into the beach for medical attention🙏🏼wishing for a solid recovery. BTW was an an absolute joy watching the lines you took into those deep ones🤙🏼💫🌊 @quiksilver @aqualungdivers @shark_shield @surfears @creaturesofleisure