Urbnsurf say he surfed in an advanced session “when he knew or ought to have known this was beyond his skill and capability”.
Always gonna happen, I suppose, someone hitting the concrete bottom of a tank and busting their neck.
I’ve been to Urbnsurf, Australia’s first commercial tank, down in Melbourne four times and on two separate occasions a decent sorta surfer has bounced off the bottom, headfirst.
The first was Swellnet’s Stu Nettle on media day there three years ago, a gorgeous summer day where the temperature hit 110 degrees, and where the pool was loosed to the clowns for a dozen non-stop hours.
Real early in the piece, Stu was sucked up the face of a lefthand tube and into the concrete bottom when a layback went awry.
As he wrote at the time,
“Before setting foot in the pool everyone signed a waiver about surfing being an inherently dangerous activity. It’s a formality of course. I expected as much. But it takes on significance when you realise the danger.
“Yeah, the danger.
“Allow me to provide some perspective.
“The first time you hit bottom is a shock. It’s hard concrete and maybe thigh deep where the lip hits. Fall on take off and you’re trying to find a place to hide in knee deep water as the lip of the next wave pitches and the rider and board pass overhead.
“My session ended after two hours when the toe side rail caught during a layback and I went over leading with my head and shoulder, each making contact and hard. The lifeguards, who’d just stitched up another punter, were quickly onto me, sitting me down and assessing damage. They decided on glue and steristrips, and an enforced end to the session. Tail between my legs, I went poolside to dry off.”
On another all-dayer a pal head-butted the bottom after being sucked up the face of the righthander and ended the day in the hozzy.
But you take your lickings. You sign the waiver; you know the bottom ain’t sand; and if it barrels, it’s gotta be shallow.
Peter Nolan, a thirty-five-year-old surfer and carpenter from the beach town of Ocean Grove an hour-and-a-half out of Melbourne, has filed a writ saying he suffered fractures in his spine and at the base of his neck after being belted by the pool last December 30.
Nolan says he was “picked up by a wave and thrown into the concrete surface of the pool” and has been off work ever since.
Nolan claims Urbnsurf should’ve warned him about the dangers despite anyone who gets in the tank signing a waiver which details “the risk of harm associated with surfing … as an obvious risk.”
He told the Herald-Sun, “I feel incredibly lucky that I’m not a paraplegic or quadriplegic after hitting the concrete so hard, especially since my surgeon told me that many people who experience something like I did end up in a wheelchair… The psychological impact has been tough, and I pretty much avoid surfing now out of fear of getting hurt.”
Urbnsurf, in their defence, say Nolan surfed in an advanced session “when he knew or ought to have known this was beyond his skill and capability”.
Bummer for Nolan, but not sure what else Urbnsurf could’ve done to y’know, make it a safe space and so on.
The case goes to court in October, 2023.
If the suit succeeds the implications could be myriad, helmets, an end to Beast sessions etc.