We are devastated to hear the news about the death of professional surfer, Mikala Jones, after suffering a severed femoral artery from his surfboard fin in the Mentawai Isands in Indonesia. Our thoughts + prayers go out to Mikala's family and friends + the global #surfing community! We will miss all the unique adventures and iconic visions Mikala brought to surfing!
This hits extremely close to home for us 💔 as the @thecore_projectt was founded after witnessing our close friend Blake Dresner pass away in our arms from a similar accident where his fin severed his carotid artery on a trip in remote Oaxaca.
As we mourn these tragic accidents, we'd also like to raise awareness about the dangers of surfing and coastal recreation and the need for all ocean enthusiasts to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to help save one another in a dire situation!
Both Blake + Mikala's accidents were chillingly similar. Severing an artery is considered a 'freak' accident that is rare in surfing, but we disagree. Both sharp fins and surfing waves of consequence (identical to where their accidents occurred) pose significant risks. According to officials, the number of injuries from surfboard fins is increasing yearly. Similar but less severe accidents occur surprisingly often in overcrowded surf spots from accidental collisions between surfers and their boards.
Although freak accidents can happen to any of us, we must be aware of the dangers and ways to help reduce their risks
Here are some ways to reduce the risk of severe gashes from surfboard fins, surfers can take the following precautions:
1. Follow Surfing Etiquette: Safety begins with respect and good surfing etiquette! Practicing proper surf etiquette not only shows respect for fellow surfers but also helps prevent injuries for everyone in the lineup. By prioritizing collision prevention, clear communication, and personal space, we create a safer surfing environment where everyone can enjoy the waves without unnecessary risks.
2. Fin Selection: Opt for surfboard fins with rounded or blunted edges, as they are less likely to cause deep cuts compared to sharp-edged fins.
Here's a link to safer FCS fins.
Here's a link to safe, flexy fins from Future Fins.
3. Fin Maintenance: Regularly inspect your fins for any sharp edges, cracks, or damage. Smooth out any rough areas or replace the fins if necessary. Sandpaper is a great tool!
4. Fin Protectors: Consider using fin guards or covers designed to cover and cushion the edges of your fins. These accessories provide an additional layer of protection and help minimize the risk of severe gashes.
5. Safe Handling: Exercise caution when handling your surfboard, especially around the fins. Avoid grabbing or carrying the board by the fins, as this can lead to accidental cuts or injuries. Instead, hold the board by the rails or use a board bag for transportation.
6. Mindful Positioning: Be aware of the position of your surfboard in the water and how close you are to other surfers. Maintain a safe distance to reduce the risk of collisions and accidental contact with fins.
7. Leash Placement: Position your leash in a way that keeps it away from the fins. A leash wrapped around or near the fins can potentially get caught and cause injuries if tension is applied.
7. Safe Entry and Exit: During entry and exit from the water, be mindful of your surroundings, especially when navigating rocky areas or shallow sections. Take your time and avoid rushing, ensuring you maintain control of your surfboard to minimize the risk of accidental cuts.
8. Communication: Communicate with other surfers in the lineup, particularly when taking off on a wave or maneuvering in crowded conditions. Clear and effective communication can help prevent collisions and reduce the chance of fin-related injuries.
9. Emergency Response Skills: It's very important that you have the knowledge needed to respond in an emergency while in the lineup for you and others around you. That being said, surfing with a group of people who are also trained in first aid, CPR, and emergency response can be a matter of life or death. You can find more info about taking BWRAG's Surf Responder summit here.
Remember, accidents can still occur despite precautions. If you do sustain a severe gash from a surfboard fin, seek immediate medical attention and apply appropriate first aid measures to control bleeding.