Surfer shrugs off close shave

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 04/10/2012
Raglan surfer Wiremu Ormsby, 17,  was back out surfing  yesterday after nearly drowning at Fitzroy Beach
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
LUCKY BREAK: Raglan surfer Wiremu Ormsby, 17, was back out surfing yesterday after nearly drowning at Fitzroy Beach on Tuesday.

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Wiremu Ormsby thought he was a goner after being pounded by a big wave while surfing at Fitzroy Beach on Tuesday.

The 17-year-old from Raglan was competing in the under-18 boys division of the National Scholastic Champs when he was smashed by a wave and held under the water. Waves were as big as two metres.

"I thought I was going to die," he said.

"I was under for so long I wanted to let go of all my breath and drown."

After catching a couple of waves in the opening stages of his heat, Ormsby was paddling back into the lineup when the wave broke right on top of him.

"I was under for about 10 to 12 seconds.

"When I came up another wave hit me straight away, I tried to put my hand up [to signal he was in danger], but just kept getting nailed by the waves."

Ormsby said he let the waves push him to shore where his Waikato teammates were waiting for him.

"I felt dizzy and couldn't walk," he said.

St John paramedics treated Ormsby at the scene before taking him to Taranaki Base Hospital, where he was kept under observation and given a chest X-ray.

"They were checking to see if I still had any water in my lungs," he said.

Contest director Ben Kennings said the surf conditions were big and messy, with two-metre waves and howling onshore winds on Tuesday.

Only the under-18 boys, the oldest surfers at the event, competed, he said.

Ormsby said that it wasn't the biggest surf he had been out in, but it was the scariest.

Kennings said Surfing New Zealand required every surfer to sign a liability waiver before competing.

As a precaution a rescue board and qualified first aider were on hand for the duration of the week-long event, Kennings said.

Ormsby was straight back in the water yesterday and said he felt 100 per cent.

"It hasn't changed my perspective, it's made me more amped for big waves."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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