Andrew Cotton: British big-wave surfer breaks back in terrifying wipeout

By Alex Butler  |  Updated Nov. 10, 2017 at 4:38 PM
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Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Surfer Andrew Cotton was hospitalized this week after getting wrecked by a giant wave in Nazare, Portugal.

Cotton, 36, suffered a broken back Wednesday after falling off of his surfboard. The father of two is married and began surfing at 7 years old.

"What can I say, I got a little excited this morning and ending up having possibly the worst wipeout impact wise of my life," Cotton posted Wednesday on Instagram. "Thank you to all the lifeguards and crew on the beach who helped stabilize me and do a great spinal recovery, I can't name everyone but you all did your bit to get me safely to the hospital."

"Obviously huge shout out to the team: @mcnamara_sfor the waves, @hugovau for rescue, company and laughs in the hospital and @polvo32 for the calls on the radio and friendship. I have broken my back but I've been really lucky, I'm already looking forward and focusing my energy to get fit and back out there on some more big rollers."

What can I say, I got a little excited this morning and ending up having possibly the worst wipeout impact wise of my life. Thank you to all the lifeguards and crew on the beach who helped stabilise me and do a great spinal recovery, I can’t name everyone but you all did your bit to get me safely to the hospital . Obviously huge shout out to the team: @mcnamara_s for the waves, @hugovau for rescue, company and laughs in the hospital and @polvo32 for the calls on the radio and friendship . I have broken my back but I’ve been really lucky, I’m already looking forward and focusing my energy to get fit and back out there on some more big rollers ! 🌊🙌🏽🇵🇹 • Footage comes from Wednesday while @go_dids was filming a documentary about @mcnamara_s's return to big wave surfing, produced by @polikromia

A post shared by Andrew Cotton (@andrew_cotty) on

Surf Fit tweeted Thursday that Cotton was "feeling fine and has friends" in the hospital.

Cotton previously rode an 80-foot wave on the same beach, according to BBC Sport. This wave appeared to be at least a 50-footer.

"I pulled up over a lump," Cotton told Magicseaweed. "I knew it wasn't going to barrel or that I wasn't going to outrun it, so I just hit the eject button and thought, [expletive], I gotta get out of this. Then a whole world of pain happened."

Cotton broke the L2 vertebra in his lower back, according to Magicseaweed.

"I'm already very much living my own dream in that I surf professionally and catch some of the biggest waves in the world," Cotton says on his official website. "But big wave riding is very much in its infancy and there are plenty of big waves still to be discovered and surfed. With pretty much all the great mountains of the world climbed and explorers having reached most of the nooks and crannies on the planet, it really is quite a thing to consider that in big wave surfing you're able to explore completely new territory and even potentially to push forward the frontiers of what's considered possible."

"Some people might see riding these mountains of water as a metaphor for what's possible in the modern world but for me it's about getting out into the [usually freezing cold] water with my friends and catching the best waves it's possible to catch. If along the way I happen to catch the biggest wave ever ridden then hey, it'll be the icing on the cake."

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