Is Surfing Dangerous?

Despite several prominent fatalities over the last few years, surfing is not all that dangerous. It may come as a surprise that surfing in even colossal waves is substantially less hazardous than what meets the eye.

Read on to learn more about surfing and its ostensible dangers. Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

is surfing dangerous
Is Surfing Dangerous?

Surfing Fatalities

Over the past decade, tragedy has been avoided in many of the world’s most dangerous big wave spots such as Jaws and Nazar√©. No fatalities have occurred there. Sadly though, four prominent surfers met their untimely demise over this period.

Sion Milosky at Mavericks (2011), Kirk Passmore at Alligators (2013), Alec Cook in Hawaii (2015) and Zander Venezia in Barbados (2017).

The low body count owes much to the advancements in water safety. This includes inflatable life vests that keep surfers from being submerged for too long. As well as spotters on land with jet-ski rescue teams quickly removing them from danger.

The ability of lifeguards and water safety professionals to resuscitate injured individuals has also been a vital factor in some major near-misses recently.

surfing big waves
Surfing Big Waves

Most Dangerous Surf Spots

A wild and unpredictable surf destination, Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu has been notoriously known as one of the world’s most hazardous spots. Since its notoriety began in the 1960s, 14 brave souls have perished here. While many more have suffered from serious injuries or close calls.

Despite the fact that there can be up to 40 surfers in a session and its variety of risks, such as hazardous underwater caves, surprisingly not many have been killed.

The monstrous waves of Mavericks, Teahupoo, and Shipstern Bluff also only account for single-digit deaths. This is certainly lower than one would expect!

How Dangerous is Surfing?

When it comes to novices and recreational surfers who rarely take on the riskier waves, surfing is actually quite safe. According to a 2013 Australian study, injury rates in these cases are almost equivalent with that of long-distance runners. Making it one of the safest sports compared to football and hockey.

Although there is no exact amount of fatalities due to surfing, it has been estimated that the number does not exceed 10 lives per year. Given that roughly 23 million people share a passion for this sport, this figure is quite remarkable and low.

Tragically, there are several causes of death for surfers. The most typical is a deadly blow to the head. Resulting from either hitting the sea floor or their board and subsequently losing consciousness before drowning.

big wave surfing
Big Wave Surfing

Causes of Death in Surfing

Although shark attacks and other wildlife encounters are highly publicized, they only contribute to a minuscule amount of deaths among surfers. One of the main causes of drowning amongst surfers is multiple wave hold-downs, rip currents or being held underwater by a leash snagged in an obstruction.

Other fatalities have been attributed to pre-existing conditions like brain aneurysms or heart attacks. Unfortunately, other causes of death have been much more common among surfers than surfing-related fatalities.

Drugs, alcohol addiction and car crashes have taken the lives of more well-known surfers than even the most dangerous surfing spots. Indicating that searching for a thrill on land can be far more risky to our health than riding the waves.

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