Writer, Surfer

Surfing’s pretty safe all said and done, isn’t it? You’re never really likely to come to any serious harm. I mean there are drownings and sharks and stuff, but it’s likely most of us will avoid all that. It’s why so many people do it, all age ranges and all shapes and sizes. Junior can splash about in the shallows with nothing to worry about aside from the dull dunt of Wavestorm on neoprene shrouded flesh. Granny can happily glide into a couple of ankle lappers at some gentle beachie for years and years before she shrivels up like an old prune. Surfing’s so safe that it’s a veritable retirement home for anyone who once enjoyed proper sport. Yep, you can pretty much paddle your way to the grave, especially if you prioritize wave sliding into your twilight years over dignity, and especially if you’re not shy of a giant SUP.

At least that’s the theory.

Yet a few days ago, during a mellow California afternoon at La Selva beach, pro mountain biker Tyler McCaul blew this theory completely out of the water. Whilst out on his (apparently deadly) SUP, McCaul received the single nastiest fin cut I’ve ever seen. A fin cut that would have severed young junior’s head, or split grandma’s skin open like an over-ripe satsuma.

Tyler McCaul is no stranger to risks and danger. He regularly hurls himself and his normal 2 wheeled sleds over canyons, rocks, dirt, other hard things etc, sometimes at heights of 30-40ft. He’s a regular at Red Bull Rampage, a freeride mountain bike competition in the Utah desert that makes surf competitions look like softplay. Rampage is the kind of thing that GoPro was invented for. The kind of thing that’s not some minor head dip on a chest high day at your local.

But who needs Rampage when you have SUP! I’m not sure what McCaul’s surf experience is, but perhaps, being a professional athlete in a different field, he just bit off more than he could chew. Perhaps he tried to get too radical, too soon by going with the SUP.

Back to the bikes then, son, they’re obviously safer. Or maybe give a hydrofoil a shot. Just make sure you look out for grandma!


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