How surfers handle wipeouts

Wipeout is an apt surfing term describing what it’s like when a surfer is abruptly wiped off the face of a wave. One second you see a surfer up and riding, and in less time than it takes to say, “Whoa,” he’s gone, buried alive.

During a wipeout, anything can happen to a surfer, from losing his pride or his life to gaining valuable insights and understanding. Some of the biggest wipeouts occur in the smallest waves. One can never underestimate the power of ocean waves, large or small. A two-foot wave can break a 10-foot surfboard if it impacts it just right. Small waves break in shallow waters; surfers break necks, bones and heads in shallow waters.

Despite all the dangers of small-wave wipeouts, it’s the big-wave wipeouts surfers fear most. When a surfer eats it on a big wave, he doesn’t wonder if he is going to take a beating - he knows he will. How bad, and for how long are the only questions.

Big-wave surfing wipeouts are seldom routine and often dramatic, spectacular and breathtaking. Freefalling down the face of a 20-foot wave and landing on your head can be enough to knock the wind right out of a surfer, if not pop an eardrum or two.

When it comes to surfing and wipeouts, fear and panic are two of the main causes. When a surfer facing a tough wave panics, he freezes up and loses all control.

Surfers gripped with fear can lose their sanity and rational thinking. When this happens, surfers begin making foolish mistakes that actually hasten their own wipeouts. Interestingly enough, it’s not wipeouts that keep surfers from going for it, but the fear of wipeouts that keep surfers from going for it.

Getting over the fear of wiping out isn’t that easy, but it can be done. Experienced surfers get over fear by thinking in the now and focusing on the positive. There is no reason to fear a wipeout if it has not happened. Even if a bad wipeout is about to happen, it still has not happened.

When a wipeout does occur, there is no time for fear, only time to get through it.

Surfers who remain calm find they can stay under water a lot longer than they ever thought they could. Surfers fighting for the surface waste valuable energy and precious, stored-up oxygen. That can make even short, three- and four-second underwater hold-downs to feel like an eternity.

When a surfer wipes out, he gains experience that causes him to get right back on his board, eager to try again. No matter how many times a surfer wipes out, as long as he keeps on trying and never, ever gives up, sooner or later he will succeed. How sweet that well-earned success will feel. Experiencing wipe outs gives surfers a great sense of respect and appreciation for life.

Never let fear of wiping out keep you from going for it, or from succeeding in life.

Take a tip from surfers: When life sends you a wipeout, large or small, handle it in the same way. Stay positive. Breathe deep. Get through it one moment at a time.

No matter how bleak or dismal a situation may appear, remember, all things pass. Don’t waste time on fear or panic. You will never get out of a burning house in a panic. You will if you stay calm and locate an exit.

The only way you can fail is if you stop trying to succeed, or worse, never try at all.

Try to succeed and you will already be halfway to attaining success.