Time was when pro surfers were all, “Mo injuries? Mo problems!” But Drifter 2.0 and surfing animal spirit, Craig Anderson, only sees a cup half full (and not of energy drink – kid’s too pure to sell his soul). See, Craig’s currently the owner of a kinked hinge in his left leg, thanks to an unremarkable slam in California earlier this year and the unwillingness of his knee to recover. The niggling pain has meant a staggered amount of sessions over the last few months, but the break strangely came at a good time, since he’s been touring around, premiering his shockingly good new film, Slow Dance. The injury recently culminated in a mouthful of gas and a surgeon’s knife, and is also gonna mean, worst-case, up to three months of dry gills. (Copious) fans of that buttery on-wave limb placement and marvellous airspace occupation shall weep. Stab shall hope for the hastiest of recoveries. But Craig? Craig will be just fine.
Stab: Ok, break it to me gentle.
Craig: Initially, before the operation, the surgeon was saying he was just gonna take out a bit of the lateral meniscus, where the tear was. But, then he ended up repairing it instead. I went in thinking it was gonna be three weeks, but it takes up to three months to heal when you repair it. I’m starting to almost get off the crutches already, and it’s only been three weeks since the op. The doc was saying that the part of the meniscus that I tore is what bears all your weight. So, it’s good to stay on crutches for a bit. I’ve been doing a little bit of physio, but there’s not much I can do until it’s healed. He repaired the outside of the meniscus – the inside of the cartilage doesn’t get any blood so they usually take it out – but I tore the outside which can actually get blood, so they can repair it. He said he took a chance but he’s the best. His name’s Bruce caldwell, he does a lot of the footy players in Newcastle. He said he’d rather repair than remove ’cause otherwise you can generate arthritis easily in a few years. It’s six weeks for the stitches to all heal and for it to grab, and get blood in. Then I can start getting into proper physio. It’s longer than I expected, at first they were like, “Oh yeah, two to three weeks you’ll be surfing!”
Let’s roll back a little – How’d you do it? I don’t know! I guess I hurt it in California when I was there staying with Dane, working on the movie, surfing T Street. I stayed outta the water for two weeks and went to a doctor there. He helped me out a lot. I went down to Mexico and surfed a bunch, and it didn’t feel great but it felt alright. Then I didn’t surf for a while til Japan, where I surfed once, and it felt niggly and weird. Surfed once or twice in Europe and it felt shitty. I guess I tore it little by little. Then when I got home, every time I bottom-turned I’d get this stabbing pain. So I got scans and they said they’d need to take it out. But they ended up repairing it.
So, the T Street crash was the defining moment? Yeah, I just went and sat on the beach. ‘Cause, the cartilage tears and goes into the knee, it’s a really fucking radically-weird sensation. It feels like you dislocate your knee, and you can’t straighten it.
Is this your first major injury? When I was 18, I did the same sorta thing but a lot worse over in Western Australia. I landed in the flats and it just fucked-out. In WA I landed so radically with all my pressure on my back leg as I was spinning around, and it just exploded. I got on the beach and my knee was locked at a right angle, I couldn’t straighten it. I went to a hospital over there and they gave me a bunch of morphine to try and straighten it, but they couldn’t. So I went into the theatre with a 90-degree angle knee, and woke up with a straight knee. I was out for so fucking long. It was the same leg, too. But this one’s way better, so I know what I’m in for. I’ll get through this easy, though it’s starting to take its toll. I’m getting a little older now.
Yeah, 25 is pretty over the hill, man. I think it was a good thing. Before this I wasn’t looking after myself. Drinking a lot and not feeling very healthy at all.
Sounds like an effective wakeup. It was, f’sure. A blessing in disguise, I guess. I would’ve preferred it not to happen obviously. That keyhole surgery is pretty fucking traumatic for your knee. As much as they say you go in there and can walk out afterwards, and while it’s a bit different when they repair the meniscus, there was no way I was walking outta there. And I still can’t get my knee straight. I’ve only got a 45-degree range of motion. My leg looks like it’s wasting away ’cause I’m not doing anything on it. Just taking it easy.
How are you spending your time? I’ve been reading a bunch, sitting on the internet… same shit. Going for swims in the baths. Well, not even swimming, I just float around. I’ve just been cruising by myself. I’m into it. Not into the injury, but just… surfing takes up a lot of time. Two surfs in a day, that’s your whole day done. So I’ve been able to read a bunch, and haven’t been drinking, and have just had a clear mind.
Just re-discovering yourself, huh? (Laughs) Not at all. But, whatever.
(Newy pal) Ryan Callinan told me being injured was rad ’cause he fell back in love with surfing. Yeah, totally. And I’d been surfing so much before the movie. I haven’t surfed much since we started making Slow Dance though. I surfed a bit in Cali, then in Mex, once in Japan, and a couple times in Europe. I can count on my hands how many times I’ve surfed this year, which is bizarre ’cause usually I’m just doing trip after trip and working hard at it. But I’ll get through, it’s minor. I’ll be alright.
Has everyone got their little bit of advice? Yeah. Everyone keeps asking what you’ve done and how long you’re out.
Annoying people like me asking about it. It’s not a big deal. It is what it is. I’m cruising. – Elliot Struck