It’s been nearly twelve months since Bede Durbidge suffered an almost career-ending injury on the North Shore, and now the former world number two is set to make his return to competitive surfing on that same stretch of sand. Bede will fly out this week to compete in the QS 10,000 Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, before taking part in the following two events of the Triple Crown, which will include a return to the scene of last year’s horrific wipeout at the Pipe Masters.

Bede in obvious agony after his pelvis was shattered in a wipeout during the Billabong Pipe Masters last year. Photo Joli

‘I’m pumped,’ says Bede of his impending comeback, showing no signs that last year’s pelvis-shattering encounter with the reef still plays on his mind.

It’s been a long road to recovery for Bede over the past eleven months, but by all indications, it’s one that he’s managed to take in his stride. Following surgery and several months spent first in a wheelchair and then aided by walking sticks, Bede returned to the water in May aboard a single-fin—and loved the experience.

‘It was so fun,’ he remembers. ‘I really enjoyed it, just taking different lines and enjoying not trying to do turns every section, just gliding. It made me enjoy the speed of surfing. It was really cool to get back to basics like that.’

Along with a slow, pressure-free return to the waves that saw him transition back onto performance boards only when he felt ready, Bede also kept his focus sharp and his mind in touch with the competitive side of surfing through his mentoring role in John John’s world title campaign. Not only was the venture successful in netting the Hawaiian prodigy his first crown, it was one that Bede says left him feeling deeply inspired about his own competitive future.

Which leads us to now. How will the man affectionately known as the White Fijian perform once he hits waves of the North Shore, and is he back to 100%?

‘I’m close,’ he admits. ‘When the waves are smaller I’m not quite there, but when they’re bigger I am.’

With an injury wildcard all but assured for 2017 and his recovery having taken far less time than many expected, it’s doubtful Bede will be putting too much pressure on himself to land on the podium in his first events back. He’s won Pipe before, he’s won the Triple Crown, the only thing he’ll be looking to show is how grateful he is to be back where he belongs, stronger and more refreshed than ever.

Leading photo: Sloane/WSL