Big-wave surfboards are referred to as “rhino chasers” for a reason: They’re pretty gigantic. Typically upward of 7 feet long, they can wield plenty of fiberglass, foam and weight to chase down the hugest of waves.
Which means that if you get hit with one of them, you’re probably going to be in bad shape. Somehow, Hawaiian big-wave surfer Koa Rothman took a 9-foot gun to the head and lived to tell the tale — albeit after swallowing a few of his teeth.
Don't know if you'd call it unlucky or lucky.. but I walked away from this accident with only a few broken teeth, a sprained neck, and a really bad headache. I'm not mad at this guy, he was around 60 years old and having a great time watching the boys get barreled. It just so happened that this wave swung a little wider than the rest of the sets, and caught him inside. I just think this could be a good lesson for people to really reconsider paddling out to a wave they do not feel comfortable at. You're not only endangering yourself, but everyone around you. Aloha!@surfline @forrestjaqua
The video, originally posted by Surfline, has a full interview with Rothman about the harrowing wipeout at this remote desert reefbreak.
Rothman tells Surfline how it went down when he was in a sizable backhand barrel:
“I’m in the barrel, and all of a sudden I saw this like flash of red — it was this guy’s board. I put my head down a little bit, ’cause it was coming straight to my face and it just cleaned me out on the side of my head. And as soon as that happened, my teeth like shattered together on top of each other. Broken in half. And as soon as that happened, I hit the water and swallowed my teeth. I was like, ‘oh f—k.'”
Referring to it as his “worst surfing wipeout” and “like a car accident,” Rothman somehow never lost consciousness. Paddling away with the shattered teeth, a concussion and a sore knee and neck, Rothman knows he was fortunate it wasn’t worse. Yes, he was pretty sore for a few days with an atrocious headache, but he’s got replacements for those teeth now and is doing well.
Rothman sees it as a chance for this video and what happened to him to be a lesson to others about paddling out in waves you’re not comfortable in. Rothman noted that the surfer whose board it was definitely seemed uneasy the whole session and should have known not to bail his board like that. At the same time, Rothman isn’t mad at the guy and is just glad it wasn’t worse.
Watching the video footage, we’re baffled (and glad) that it wasn’t worse than a few swallowed teeth and some headaches.
More about big-wave surfing from GrindTV