Distributor of Ideas

The Inertia

Andrew Cotton’s certainly never going to forget the day Nazaré broke his back. November 8, 2017. His recovery since that day has probably been one of the most under the radar stories in big wave surfing since. Doctors gave Cotty good news shortly after the wipeout that his spine was intact and he’d make a recovery. Of course, the word recovery can mean something different to every individual, and to the British surfer, it meant actually returning to Nazaré as quickly as possible.

By June he was back in the water. By September he was declaring he’d be surfing the giant wave by October, less than a year from the day of his accident. And as fate would have it, the gods offered up a swell on the exact one-year anniversary of Cotton’s near-death wipeout.

“It’s almost like fate,” he says. “I feel like at 10 o’clock I should be riding a giant left. Full circle.”

Cotton spent November 7 in the water with Garrett McNamara. The two tow each other into a couple waves and Cotton’s is so big and so dark you can’t even make him out on the wave face. The only thing the ensuing wipeout breaks this time is his board, a loss he probably brushed right off. And on November 8, he was back out there well before the sun. The waves didn’t pan out to be quite as big as everybody had hoped but Andrew Cotton brought everything full circle nonetheless.

That is a redemption story.


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.