Moving mountains momentarily reclaim their place from sharks as the most dangerous thing in the ocean.
When Tracks last spoke to Jamie Mitchell about his catastrophic drubbing at Cow Bombie last Sunday, the man of steel was in a world of hurt, but determined to press on back to Hawaii to get back to his girl and four week old daughter.
He got as far as Sydney.
“Turns out the injuries were worse than I first thought,” Mitchell reported back.
“I have a Grade 2 tear of my MCL in the right knee, my right elbow has two fractures and a grade 2 tear. I also had a concussion.”
The good news is none of the injuries require surgery, but the not so good news, for Mitchell at least, is he’s facing eight weeks out of the water. And this is where the thinking comes in.
“I’ve been doing the maths on that non stop and eight weeks will bring me to the beginning of November, which is not good news considering we are heading into an El Nino winter in the northern hemisphere,” he says.
“I’m ready to accept I’m going to miss out on one good swell but I’ll be doing all I can to shave the recovery time back to six weeks.”
Even then, it’ll be a delicate balance of acting on medical advice and perhaps more importantly, feel.
“Both injuries are in crucial spots. My right knee, for any natural footed surfer when you think about it, is the dominant one, there’s a lot of bending, twisting and weight bearing going on right there,” he says.
“It’s the same for my elbow, aside from the pressure that gets put on it paddling, it also plays a big part in springing up off your board so as tempting as it will be it’s going to be pretty important to the remainder of winter to get this right.”
They were bad, this was worse.
“They were both bad wipeouts and fairly solid hold downs but this was next level if not just for the sheer violence of it,” he reckoned.
“When that lip hit me, I got pushed so far down that there was only a couple inches of the nose of my board sticking up out of the water and I was riding 10’10’’ with a 10 foot legrope.”
The legrope, and it’s failure to snap, proved critical as did the years and years of physical and mental training that prepared him for that exact moment.
“I don’t think I ever thought I was going to die down there,” says Mitchell.
“I just remember thinking, ‘Righto, this is what all that training has been for. Just don’t panic.”
He also said he’d reached out to good mate and fellow Big Wave Dave, Shawn Dollar who’d had his neck broken in four places, incurred head trauma and a concussion while surfing a remote Northern Californian reef.
“Any injury involving the neck is a scary thought,” says Mitchell.
Big waves huh? Who’d of thunk it?