Connected By Water | The Story Behind The Big Wave Safety Movement

How big wave surfing bounced back from a tragic incident at Mavericks in 2011

When Sion Milosky died at Mavericks on the 16th of March 2011 after suffering a multiple wave hold-down, the big wave surfing community was left stunned. It was a tragedy, and a stark reminder, if reminders were needed, of the inherent dangers built into such pursuits.

The incident was, in all honesty, a wake up call. Surfing was advancing quicker than the safety nets, and it was clear that something had to change. Later that year, Kohl Christensen and Danilo Couto got a group of surfers together on the North Shore, Oahu, and held a CPR course.

“A stark reminder, if reminders were needed, of the inherent dangers built into such pursuits”

This was the first ever (unofficial) Big Wave Risk Assessment Group meeting. Over the next decade, this would evolve into a worldwide, 14-stop tour covering everything from ocean risk management right on through to CPR and AED training, medical intervention, spot analysis, mindful breathing, emergency action planning and water rescue.

Surfing’s come a long way, in recent years. This Patagonia film is the story of the sport’s painful, but ultimately positive journey to higher standards of safety. Look after yourself out there.

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