Real-time Earth and Moon phase

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Newport Beach tragedy

One thing I guess I'll never understand is body surfing. According to Wikipedia, "Bodysurfing is the art and sport of riding a wave without the assistance of any buoyant device such as a surfboard or bodyboard. Bodysurfers typically equip themselves only with a pair of specialized swimfins that stay on during turbulent conditions and optimize propulsion." There they show this picture that was taken at LaJolla:

So it may not be totally unexpected, but this news headline from the LA Times today: "Man killed at the Wedge in Newport Beach" is still hard to bear. Here's the report of Mike Anton and Gerrick D. Kennedy:
The explosive Wedge surf break in Newport Beach has left generations of daredevils with broken bones and concussions.

On Friday, with waves topping 20 feet, it killed a man -- a rare death at a place that would seem to invite it.

The Orange County coroner's office has identified the man as 50-year-old Monte Kevin Valantin of Lawndale. He was thrown against the rock jetty that produces the Wedge's outsized waves about 12:30 p.m.

Newport Beach lifeguards pulled him aboard their boat and he later died at nearby Hoag Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

"There was a relatively small group of bodysurfers and boarders in the water," said Jim Turner, a Newport Beach lifeguard battalion chief. "On the shore, there were in excess of a thousand spectators."
The report also has this sober description:
The physics of the Wedge have earned it an international cult following. Incoming waves carom off the rock jetty that protects Newport Harbor and slam into following swells. The result is giant tubes that thunder to shore at speeds reaching 30 mph.

The inexperienced get tossed around like rag dolls trapped in a commercial washing machine. Even experts who get sucked into the Wedge's steep break can be flung into the air or slammed into the shallow, sandy bottom.
Like I indicated at the beginning, I'll never understand why would anyone be allowed to risk their own body be slammed against the rocks at the mercy of the waves. Only waves will suffice, not necessarily freaque waves. Today the 50 year old man paid with his ultimate price. Really, it's not worth it -- not with your life!

Update 8/18/2009

I come across this video made during that day at the Wedge a few hour before the tragedy:


Anonymous said...

It should be pointed out that this death occurred on a day of extremely rough surf. As an LA resident, I noticed local media covering the approaching dangerous surf conditions several days in advance, which is fairly unusual; also, on the day of this tragic event, there were reports of large waves reaching the parking lot of some popular beaches, and lifeguards were warning people to stay out of the water. This death was completely preventable.

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