Bloodsport: Bennett Barnes.
First up, quick introduction, who you are / where you’re from and your backstory in boogin’?
Hey I’m Bennet, I’m 22 from Sydney. I work at bodyboard king and run @coastal_flicks as a side hustle. I’ve been riding a boog for about 7 years now and hope to keep doing so till VBC members are collecting Drag’s 2017/18 range.
Can you describe the conditions of the session where you were injured?
Almost everything was wrong that day. I woke up hungover to a mate calling who wanted to surf a fickle left slab near home. It doesn’t break very often so I thought it’d be better than laying in bed for the rest of the arvo (in hindsight maybe not). I arrived there half dead, forgot my leash, it was onshore 4/5ft and the tide was too high. Despite all that it looked like a couple bowls were trying to come through and we gave it a go.
Okay, talk us through how the injury happened and what it felt like in the immediate aftermath?
The spot we were surfing is your standard slab setup where you take the waves that look like closeouts, so it’s hit/miss even when conditions are good.
I took a bigger one that went kinda wonky hoping for an airbowl and it started to barrel. Having no leash I was like “eh whatever”, just pull in and hang on maybe I’ll make it, but of course things went a bit pear shaped.
I made the pit and upon doing so realised I was in the air, looked down and was flying about 4ft above the rocks. I ditched my board and stuck my arms out hoping to somehow commando roll out of the situation but when landing my right arm went into one of the crevices along the shelf and I front flipped over the joint.
It dislocated my shoulder, fractured my collar bone and fractured my humerus all in one go, then to top it off I got swept back over the rocks and into the water, with no board.
At first it didn’t hurt, I remember popping up and thinking “hah that was lucky, thought I was gonna break my neck” 10 seconds or so passed till I looked at my arm and realised it was a piece of spaghetti being held together by my steamer. I was like “Okay my arm is totally cooked but I can’t feel it, ignore it and get to shore”. Right on queue the adrenaline started to fade and I started to swear, drown and flail.
Now describe what happened after the initial injury to get you medical care?
I was looking at the ledge I had to somehow climb, I was sinking, my mate had no idea what was happening and there was another wave coming. I was like “Alright, round 2 with the reef, I stick this or I’m gonna drown”.
I half assed the bodysurf, trying to stay a bit behind the lip so It wouldn’t send me flying again and sort of rolled on my side along the reef, not my finest moment but I made it with a bit more swearing and flailing.
Once I was up the rocks there was a 100m shelf with oysters and crap all over it, then a walk along the beach for another 500m or so back to the carpark. I was hanging onto my wrist, hunched over in tunnel vision thinking it’d be a long time before I could even consider getting help, when some frother Swede bloke ran up to me saying “Wow man nice lobster!” I was confused what he was on about but realised pretty quick he thought my jank arm was a massive lobby haha!
As soon as he saw there were no crustaceans around he went beast mode and helped so much. He ran and got my phone, organised an ambo, waited for it in the carpark for almost an hour then showed the paramedics where I was. Never even got the guy’s name but if he happens to see this I owe him some beers!
What was the recovery / time/ rehabilitation process like?
The recovery was tedious more than anything, the dislocation became a recurring injury to the point where my shoulder would fall out in my sleep regularly and since my most recent dislocation it’s been a grind of daily physio for a bit over a year.
My mate Leon @leonbalancept / @swellevent was a huge help in the process teaching me routines and speaking about his own experiences with dislocation/physio/surgery which saved me from diving head first in a double shoulder reconstruction (Left shoulder was a previous injury) which would’ve cost a bomb and kept me out of the water even longer.
How does the injury affect your life on land and in the water today?
Currently my shoulder is fairly stable, I’ve only just started to get back in the water and can’t boog anywhere near the standards I’d previously set for myself but It’s also the best I’ve felt since the injury occurred.
Hopefully I can keep booging without setting anything off again. For a while the injury interfered with my work and stunted a lot of opportunities both in and out of the water but at the same time it allowed me to focus more on relationships and pick up some new hobbies.
As cliche as it may sound, being stopped in my tracks has been a blessing in disguise. It’s put a lot of perspective on life for me and shown that there’s a bit more to it than how flat your cregs are.
Any other information, shout outs or acknowledgments you’d like to include feel free here.
Shoutout to the rig nurse that pulled my wetty off, much appreciated