Rob Bain Breaks His Neck Surfing

Former ASP World Tour Surfer Rob Bain On The Way Back From A Heavy Surf Injury; Has A Message For Us All About Diving From Your Surfboard

Rob Bain At Waimea Bay

Rob Bain At Waimea Bay

Rob Bain from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, a former ASP World Tour surfer, prominent through the 1980’s and early 90’s with four ASP world tour wins, suffered a horrific wipeout just under two weeks ago while surfing North Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches, sustaining serious head, neck and back injuries and almost died…here’s his story:

ASP Australasia caught up with Bainy briefly to assess his recovery…

ASP Australasia: How’s your recovery going?

Rob Bain: My first appointment is 4 weeks from the accident and then they will assess how long I need to be in the body and neck cast. Anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks or more. They said no surfing for 5 months but we will see how it progresses. I have a fractured vertebrae in my neck and 5 in my thoracic spine. I have compressed 3 discs also in my thoracic, as well as a broken rib. My head is healing together, as I had scalped myself needing over 50 internal stitches and 50 external staples.

How long before you’re back in the water?

Maybe 6 months at this stage. Have to wait and see.

Rob Bain

You’ve had some heavy situations in the past …like the Waimea close out session. Is this the heaviest surfing accident you’ve had?

I have been trapped under my hut in G’LAND (Indonesia) tsunami in ‘94 (waking up trapped underwater), I’ve had a Waimea close out set on the head, been hung upside down from Huntington pier in a big swell, speared in the head in Hawaii by my board and nearly drowned, so there’s been a few. My wife said the other day, how many do I think I’ve got left? This one though was by far the scariest one that I have had, due to the injuries and the force in which I smashed my head into the rock underwater.

What actually happened at North Avalon?

I was surfing with my son and a bunch of locals including Bruce Raymond. Bruce and I paddled for a wave up inside on the reef, and I was inside so Bruce pulled back and off I went down the line. It was fun wave and I ended up doing a long floater and landing in shallow water. I misjudged where I was on the reef and dived off into the wave face at the bottom and instantly underwater smashed full force with my head into the rock. When I hit I felt an electric shock go off through my back as I broke stuff, and felt the top of my head get smashed and ripped open. I knew I couldn’t pass out though. I broke the surface and was in a bad way, as I felt the top of my head peeled off and couldn’t breather properly. I felt as though I was going to shut down.

I looked up to the North Avalon stairs and saw my wife there, with other people and I waved to her. I started to scream for help, as I was worried about passing out. Some local surfers helped get me up the beach and wife was in my face telling me I was going to be OK and to keep straight and not move etc. It was scary as hell, and I actually was worried at the beginning I was going to die. I didn’t know how bad I was at that point, and anyone who had seen my head was really worried.

My son came in and held my hand, as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I was taken to Mona Vale and onto Royal North Shore trauma ward for the next week.

I would like to thank the local surfers, lifeguards and ambulance guys for acting fast and with great knowledge and also my wife who was a rock and has the unfortunate task of still helping me out at present. I will be back, but I will be careful diving off my board. I was very lucky in the end, and it could have been so much worse.

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