Each year, Kirra Teams Challenge is held up on the Gold Coast. The event has potential to be run at pumping barrels of Kirra but usually takes place at the fun peaks of Duranbah. This is a national event, setup for Eight Surfers (6 Open, 2 Juniors) to compete for their club. The contest is set up with 4 man heats, and everybody from the team’s surfs one heat each, the points are added up from your placing and the heat totals to create a grand total for the team. There were 38 teams from around Australia showing up with some of their top club surfers. We were lucky to have a Cyclone hanging around creating some waves in the overhead range and had really playful Dbah with 4 guys in the water for the heats. Queenscliff Boardriders Club had a good showing with 4 of the surfers winning their heats and finishing 12th overall but one heat win away from the top spot.
I was at loss of words when I found out that Scott passed away this January. The days before I was sending him some footage of the new board he shaped me and was thinking of something new we could work on for our next project. I know Scott had been battling through Cancer and chemotherapy treatments for almost a decade now but his commitment to what he enjoyed doing was contagious. Scott was a friend, a shaper and a life long San Diegian. His passion for surfboard shaping has brought a lot of stoke to me and many surfers around the world. He was really easy to talk to and bring up new ideas to his office. His words have sunk into my life “do what you want to in life”. I hope you are deep into your dreams, Thanks Scott for your friendship.
Queenscliff Boardriders Club(QBC) had their end of the year “man on man” competition. There was a nice little wind swell for the day and a lot of the top surfers from the club showed up to win. The prestige of the “man on man” event is that it showcases the best competitive surfers in the club and creates an entertaining day of high level surfing. Since 1978 in the clubs history there has been a lot of high level surfers from the WCT to the WQS including names like Rob Bain, Layne Beachley, Sam Page and Nick Riley. The new insurgence of competitive surfers from the club, like Nick “Danga” Buttler, Sophia Bernard and Ben Hamilton are leading the ratings and pushing the level of the monthly competitions that QBC organize for his members. One of the features of the QBC includes a warm welcoming to traveling or overseas surfers (like me) that add dynamics to the club and an interesting way to write their history and share their pride. This years results were a mix of the locals and the traveling surfers playing rock, paper, scissors for priority and a “blow in” (as they say in Australia) played paper for the win ;) Thank you to all the club members for the sharing the stoke and camaraderie. Heres a mini film of the comp day through the eyes of a mini Charlotte.
Man on Man Champ: Austin Ware 2nd place: Ben Hamilton =3rd place: Danga, Jarred Sullivan
O’Neill has turned the Coldwater Classic at Steamer Lane (Santa Cruz, CA) into an invitational event, they pick 15 unsponsored surfers and one wildcard video entry to compete for a sponsorship with the company and $50 grand budget. This year I was invited to compete along with my long time friend and traveling partner Nate Yeomans. Nate and I took the chance and drove up the coast. I enjoyed the quality of the event, it felt like a WCT event, with locker rooms, man-on-man heats, packaged gifts and parties for the athletes.
The first day saw a nice head high swell that came from Hurricane Ana that had produced south swell for Cali a week before the event and then slowed down, headed out to Hawaii and then regrouped and turned into a small storm again in the north and gave us some west swell for the comp. A unusually storm pattern to double on swell for Cali but that the season Cali has had this year. I know its called the Coldwater Classic but this year the ocean water has been unseasonable warm and I was overheating in a 3/2 Vapor X wetsuit from Bodyglove. Usually my hands and feet are frozen blocks but this year was more like the “coolwater classic” ;)
Nate is a former Coldwater Classic in 2009 and looked like the guy to beat from the start of this event, dropping 8’s and 9 point rides each heat. I had some slow heats with the waves but I was able to put together one solid wave a heat but that wasn’t enough to get past my 3rd round heat. On the final day, Nate came out swinging, like he could taste the sponsorship and the day finished with Nate spraying champagne in the crowd and a new sticker on his board. Congrats Nate on the epic win!
A tall, dark and lanky Aussie has been digging into some California waves this summer. Pat Parker calls Manly, Australia home but his surfing roots started to grow in Bali. Pats surfing has a unique Indonesian flare and a solid Aussie assurance too, like if you comboed up a Kai Otton and Rizal Tanjung together. Pat came over early this summer with his easy going family and they got their fix of burritos and Cali lifestyling.
Back injuries are deflating to the human psyche and can take weeks to months, even years to fully heal. Research indicates that 9 out of 10 adults will go through some type of back pain in their life and may develop arthritis several years after the injury (wikipedia and WebMD). Moreover, the sedentary career styles in the 21st century have created a dramatic increase in back issues because sitting for long periods of time weakens your back from inactivity. Sitting for hours at a time causes muscles in your leg and stomach to shorten and tighten up, which causes the vertebrae in the back to straighten the natural curve of the spine. Losing the natural curve brings pressure and strain into the back. High impact sports like snowboarding, surfing, and skating are predispose to back injuries from the high impact landings. In the US over $50 billion dollars is spent each year on treatments for back problems. Our body stays in prime condition when it’s in constant motion, so get up, walk or stretch from time to time during the day. I have my own story of back problems, twice, which led to bedridden for 3 months at the age of 31. The injury stole my athletic career. I thought I was too young to be going through a serious back problem (herniated vertebral discs). I worried that I was going to be handicapped for the rest of my life.
The complex architecture of the vertebra column has four sections, cervical (top area), thoracic (mid area), lumbar (lower mid area) and the sacral (bottom). The spinal column is made up of 33 vertically connected bones covering the spinal cord. Fitted between the vertebra are intervertebral discs. The discs are like jelly filled doughnuts that fill in the spaces between each vertebra in the spinal column. These discs absorb the pressure to your spine during movement, so you can live a pain free active lifestyle. When there is too much pressure on the spine the discs will expand but if there is a constant or high impact compression, the discs may bulge out of the spinal cord and push against the nerves. This can cause phantom pains and muscles spasms throughout the body. If a disc is pressured too much for too long it may herniate (rupture), the jelly squeezes out of the disc and into the nerves, initiating inflammation. When inflammation kicks in, the nerves fire uncontrollably and the muscles around your back lock up causing more pain.
The Mental Fight
My first injury occurred from towing at waves using a Jet ski for 7 hours non-stop. Tow-ats are brutal on your body if you don’t know what you are doing. The second injury occurred nearly 7 months later in my lumbar L3, L4/L5 discs, from combination of snowboarding, followed immediately by several long flights straight into North Shore Hawaiian waves. After the first injury, I received a cortisone shot to halt the inflammation. In a few weeks I felt good enough to surf again. I thought I wouldn’t need too much recovery time. Little did I realize what a mistake I was about to make. When the cortisone shot wore off, the discs blew out and I was on my back in horrible pain for 3 months. The symptoms of a herniated disc depend on the location of the herniation. With mine at L3, and L4/L5 I developed sudden on set of loss of feeling and inability to move my left foot, also called drop foot. The muscles tightened up in my left leg and hip, with continual leg spasms that made it painful to walk. I consulted several physicians and all suggested surgery (Discectomy) to repair the discs. However, Dr. Sten Kramer (Newport, California) had worked with other athlete’s, surfers particularly who had gone through similar back problems. Dr. Kramer utilized non-surgical methods to achieve full recovery. Dr. Kramer suggested anti-inflammatory drugs, including both cortisone and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (Mobic) to stop the swelling. After a month, a Psychical Therapist was needed to promote my recovery, to build and train my muscles to prevent more damage during physical activity. I was so down on myself at that moment, thinking none of this was going to get me back to having an active lifestyle let alone surfing. However my first hint of hope came after, the cortisone and anti-inflammatory drugs got me to my feet, yet I was still hobbling around and still in serious pain, and NO surfing. My friend Jeremy Sherwin suggested I see his Physical Therapist, Brad Jones the founder of b project (Carlsbad, California). Brad is well known in the snowboard community as one of the best PT’s in the business, but in the back of my head I was skeptical he might not be able to help with my back problem and I didn’t want to risk more pain.
Patience versus Quick Fix
A major part of going through a back problem or any physical problem for that matter is how vulnerable the injury makes you feel. Anything for a quick fix becomes the goal. I found myself trying all sorts of things to alleviate the pain, which in the end delayed me from what I really needed. There is a secret for repairing a back problem, it is patience. A back problem means there’s an imbalance in the mobility of your body. Your body needs to retrain to re-balance itself. I calmed down and realized I needed patience, time and hard work to recover.
I called up Brad Jones and talked to him about his experience working with patients with back problems. Brad works with people everyday with these types of injuries. I was shocked on how many people could be going through similar pain as me. After a thorough assessment, Brad started to massage the nerve off the muscle, loosening up the atrophied muscles in my left leg and hip but I quickly realized, I needed a new level of pain tolerance. After I wiped the tears away from my eyes, Brad prescribed me stretching exercises that I could hardly do without screaming in pain. I was starting to doubt whether I had made the right choice. After a week of the stretches and painful massages, to my surprise the pain began to subside. I had another dose of hope again to achieve an active life and maybe surf. Brad said after the muscles are loosened, the hard work toward repairing and prevention would begin. Brad helped me retrain and strengthen my hip and core muscles to take the impact pressures that will allow me to surf again. After two months of the training and stretches ritually, I was back in the water. YES! My confidence was coming back, too. And after a year of working at the b project, I was surfing better than when I was competing full time. Why? Because I took the long road to build a solid foundation of muscles to protect my back and reset the imbalance. I have to work a lot harder to stay in surf shape now, but once you have worked that hard to build yourself back up to health and that quality of life, you realize there’s no desire to go back. Stretching, warm-ups and training is a fact of life, like brushing teeth. Now I have the reward of healthy and strong back.
New Quality of Life
Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open revealed how much back pain he had in his tennis career, on some days he just couldn’t make it to the court. When I start feeling tightness in my back, I go through thoughts of should I keep pushing through or should I choose patience, do my warm-up and stretches. I always know doing the warm-ups and stretches is the long road but this is the best route for my back. That long road leads me to the pleasure of surfing, pain free. If I can offer a piece of advice to those with back pain, stop looking for the quick fix. Ask yourself for patience, time, effort to heal and repair, and connect with a knowledgeable Physical Therapist. A physical therapy program goes the long way in the recovery and sustainability of your body. Surfing requires a lot of back movement, so make your legs, hips and core strong and that will take the strain off your back. When your back feels tight take time to relax your leg and hip muscles with stretches or a foam roller or a good massage.
Below is a foam roller exercise and a light stretch routine to loosen up the legs, each stretch hold 30 seconds x 2.
Open An Autobiography by Andre Agassi, 2010
Get your Life Back, The Ultimate Guide to Healing a Herniated Disc by Dr. Ron Daulton, Jr. 2007
Manly has had a few good swells come through this fall. This particular swell lit up the northern beaches. I paddled out before dark at Queenscliff corner and had some special waves. Charlotte was in the background capturing the uniqueness of the session and bringing jazzy vibes to the session.