'I stuck my finger in my head and could feel brain and ooze'

Surfing is full of gnarly close calls. Recently there was Tyler Wright’s tangle with a pool wall and chain fence, while last week big-wave surfer Mark Mathews suffered the cheese grating (above) at Ours in Sydney. While both Mathews and Wright survived with relatively minor injuries, other surfers haven’t always been so lucky. (Not to make light of surfing and injuries, as some even pay with their lives.) Here is five of surfing’s gnarliest injuries incurred by some of surfing’s most famous names.

Mick Fanning’s bone tearer
A simple floater went horribly wrong on a boat trip in Indonesia in 2009 when Mick Fanning’s entire hamstring muscle was torn clean off the bone. After a grueling three-day journey home the fun started. “They slice the back of your arse open and peel it back,” Mick told Surfer, post operation. “Then they drill into your arse bone and put, like, a grappling hook in there. It’s so strong, the doctor said he was lifting me off the table just with the hook. And then they sew the ligament on to the grappling hook.” Fanning had six months out of the water, but returned to win the first event he competed in.

The cut that derailed most of 2011 for Parko. Photo:

Joel Parkinson’s sashimi foot
“I just pulled into a barrel and have been taken out by the foamball, and straight away I’ve felt the board hit me,” Joel Parkinson said after this injury in 2011. “I knew immediately it was a pretty serious cut. I didn’t want to look at it when I came in because I knew it wouldn’t be good.” He was right; he had almost sliced off his entire heel, and wouldn’t surf for another five months.

Tom Carroll’s broken leg at Waimea
“I went down the face, and the wave caught up with me and just really drilled me. It came down on my leg and tweaked it sideways and my ankle gave way. It wrenched my ankle—just separated my foot from my ankle.” That was two-time world champion Tom Carroll recounting the Waimea wipeout in 2010 that left him with a broken leg and dislocated ankle. Carroll is no stranger to overcoming injury, though. In 1983 during a pre-contest shorebreak re-entry in Japan, his board stuck in the sand nose first and his back foot slipped off sending the fin straight up his a*s, resulting in 13 stitches.

Tamayo Perry’s tomahawk wound
Tamayo Perry was surfing Pipeline in 2010 when another surfer’s board embedded into his head. “The guy in front just abandoned ship right in front of me as I tried to dip under this 12-footer,” said Perry at the time. “His board got caught up by the wave and gathered speed until hit the top of my head and opened up a 15 inch gash. Underwater I stuck my finger in my head and could feel brain and ooze. I got over fifty staples and it looks like I got raided by a pack of Indians and they left me for dead. It was a full scalping.” Perry was forced out of the water for three months.

Martin Potter’s escaped intestines
In 1997 the former world champion and now WSL commentator Martin Potter was lucky to escape with his life after the nose of his board pierced his stomach. Six inches of his surfboard snapped off cutting him so deeply that his intestines were coming out of the wound. He needed 40 stitches and spent three months out of the water.