Nathan Florence has been relatively lucky in his surfing career. No real injuries save for a few sprains and tweaks here and there. But injury is to be expected when surfing the kinds of waves Nathan surfs. Ask Billy Kemper. Ask Andrew Cotton. Ask Maya Gabeira. Ask Keala Kennelly. Ask Mark Mathews. So when Nate fell on an XXL Jaws wave and felt a pop in his lower back, he was aware that something could be wrong. Wrong enough to go to the hospital.
You’ve seen footage of the day by now. Peahi did its damndest to put on the best possible show she could, and she didn’t fail. The morning started off paddleable with a hint of offshore winds and built all day until it was a tow-session for the ages. Nate, though, had to call it early because of a horrendous wipeout.
“I got picked up and I fell through the barrel,” he said after getting an X-ray. “I fell a lot longer than I thought. After the initial impact, I got sucked up and fell again. As I was falling, I was pulling my vest. I just fell a lot farther than I thought and my body was in a weird position. I just slammed on my back on the bottom of the barrel, which is just hard water. Right when I slammed, I just felt kind of a snap in my lower back, right on my spine.”
He made his way to a rescue ski, then onto a boat, where he sussed things out. Things did not feel good. He could stand and sit and walk around — painfully — but he couldn’t twist. So he decided to get himself checked out, which was a smart thing to do.
Thankfully, when the X-rays came back, everything looked okay. His shoulder and back were tweaked, but nothing major went wrong on that wipeout. Nathan has a certain wave in mind that he wants from Jaws, and he’s willing to put himself in harm’s way to surf it.
“I’ve been trying to knife it into one of these big double-ups,” he said. “I’ve had like three or four attempts, and it’s just never ended well. So… still chasing that.”
And if Nathan’s record is anything to go by, we can expect to see him do it at some point in the near future.