Parker Coffin Nearly Left His Eye At Soup Bowl
“If I blacked out, there’s no way I would be here.”
Kelly Slater makes it look easy, but proper Soup Bowl is anything but. Parker Coffin found this out the hard way after his face collided with the reef just five waves into his Barbados trip on Friday.
The impact cut deep into his head and required a full day in a nearby hospital. Jason “Mini” Blanchard was there to capture the full thing. You can watch the whole ordeal, with Parker’s recollection, above.
Minutes after he landed in Miami on Saturday to see a specialist for surgery the following morning, Parker and I spoke on the phone about his injury. Because like every world-class reef break, there’s always something more beneath the surface.
“I’m messed up, but I’m lucky considering what happened,” Parker said. “It could have been a lot worse. If I blacked out, there’s no way I would be here.”
A little backstory: Parker was among a handful of regulars like the Burke brothers and Jamie Moran tackling solid Soup Bowl on Friday. Then he took off on a bomb, grabbed his outside rail, and went face-first into the coral below. It was a scary scene when he came up, and the lineup helped him get to shore.
Stuart Stout, a staple in the local surf community, got Parker in the car and headed to the hospital. Then they hit stop-and-go traffic. That’s when Stuart hollered at the boys in blue.
“Stuart goes ‘Hey, can we get a police escort to the hospital?’” Parker recalled. “The guy looked at us, and I pulled down the gauze I had over my eye, and he goes, oh yeah, for sure. He jumped on his bike and the guy literally parted traffic for us. Stuart was like an F1 driver going around corners. But then I ended up sitting in the waiting room for five hours, which was really gnarly. I just sat there with my hand on my eye. The whole time I was thinking I lost my eye which was heavy. That’s where my head was going, and I was nervous. Mini was there the whole time, put his arm around me and told me it was going to be alright. It was pretty fucking heavy, to be honest.”
Parker walked away with a broken nose but didn’t lose his eye as he had feared. While at a Barbados hospital, he got CT scans on his head to check for concussions. He’s now in Miami riding solo. Mini stayed in at Soup Bowl to film Kelly because, well, it’s Kelly at Soup Bowl. Parker said he was grateful for the local support he got in the water and at the hospital.
“I got really lucky,” he said. “You can break your orbital bone, which is a really heavy procedure. That didn’t happen, and I can’t believe I didn’t break my nose, because it feels like it’s broken.”
The incident also got Parker thinking about the currently rapid pace of surfing, and how the world is so used to seeing success that failure becomes all the more starker. And with progression at the forefront of many surfers’ minds, there’s some pressure to produce at a high rate. Parker’s no stranger to pushing his personal limits, and his brush with the other side at Kandui in 2015 had a profound effect on his perspective in big surf. His journey back into overhead pits came to fruition in SEOTY entry, Sendo.
“We’re putting our life on the line every time we paddle out at heavy waves,” he said. “They might see the glory clip on Instagram, but this is the shit that happens. It’s the stuff that keeps us in check and keeps us real.
“We push ourselves to go to the next level. That’s progress, but it comes at a cost at times. The brands, the viewers, the people, all expect a constant flow of content. And we’re out there doing our best, but it’s hard. We go through shit.”
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