Stab Magazine | “I Forgot Where I Was, But I Could Hear A Beautiful Song”
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“I Forgot Where I Was, But I Could Hear A Beautiful Song”

Koa Smith’s recount from yesterday’s horrifying encounter with the Nias reef.

news // Jul 21, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

He’s a savant in heavy tunnels, an image of youthful vibrance and yesterday around noon, Koa Smith was knocked unconscious after falling in the tube and driving his skull into the Nias reef.

The blonde headed global wander and a band of tube chasing compadres had sprung into gear after spotting a pulse thundering in Indonesia’s direction, the same one that made for exceptional viewing at the Rip Curl Cup yesterday.

According to Koa, he hasn’t had enough backside tubes in his life lately and just wanted to go right, Nias seeming the best option considering the approaching energy.

Koa was just three waves deep on his first ever session at the stretch when he came unstuck, tumbling upside down in the barrel and plowing head first into the reef.

After seeing an Instagram post featuring Koa’s aspiringly proportioned rig, with blood trickling down his back, a hole in the back of his head and an interesting story involving a “beautiful song”,  we though a recount from Koa was in order and picked up the phone.

Stab: Koa, how are you?
Koa: Man I’m doing pretty good, sitting on the beach at Nias, how you doing?

Yeah, I’m good, better than you from what I’ve seen?
I’m still doing alright, sitting here watching, it’s like solid eight feet and light offshore, all the boys are getting so fucking barrelled, it’s amazing to watch.

Ok, you are doing better than me, I’m in an office.
[Laughs] Yeah yeah!

Well firstly, glad to hear you’re ok. What have you been doing over there in Indo? 
I was in Hawaii when I saw this swell and I’ve kind of always wanted to surf Nias. I love going right. I like backside barrels. So I saw this swell and the whole squad was going, so I was like ‘fuck, I’m going’.

The charts looked wild, huh?
Yeah, it was downgraded once it got closer but still, it’s been amazing. It’s definitely one of the biggest right barrels around. 

So that was your first time out Nias, what happened?
Yeah, my first time out. I think it was my third wave. There was a rogue set, we were all sitting together, then we went over the wave and it was like BOOM, right there. 

I was in the spot for it, I thought… It ended up swinging wide though. I took the drop, did a big no grab pump, then another one, then was too deep. 

The lip landed and it opened up. You know when the lip hits the bottom of the wave and the wave opens up? 

I remember doing a flipping motion and then just BOOM, hit something. I thought maybe it was someone else’s board. Those were the thoughts I had after.

I hit something and then instantly went into this quiet-ish space. It was interesting. I heard this super beautiful song playing.

What did you hear exactly?
Oh man, it was like classical violin. That type of vibe. 

Then I came back to my senses and realised I was under water. I was like ‘oh shit, don’t black out, don’t black out! I’m gonna be ok!’

I made it to the surface, grabbed my board and paddled straight to the shoulder and Daniel Russo, Chachi and some other guys checked me out, made sure I was ok and took me in.

I knew I had a concussion when my vision started going and my left arm went a bit numb. Kinda heavy, it’s so far out in the jungle and everything, but there were so many people to help, clean up my wounds and just take care of me.

It was a pretty magical experience actually. 

How long do you think you’ll be out for?
I’ve had a pretty traumatic head injury before. I got ran over by a jet ski like six years ago. I was out of the water for like four to six months. This is my first one since then so I’m pretty happy to take it easy. 

My girl’s in Bali, so I might just head over there, chill out, see how I feel, make sure I’m not having any problems concentrating or anything. 

Did you get some rest last night?
I did. I’m with Koa Rothman, Eli Olsen, Billy Kemper, Jack Germain, Daniel Russo and Billy was coming into my room in the middle of the night and waking me up – making sure I was waking up (laughs).

Everyone’s just been so amazing. 

Stab wishes Koa a speedy recovery. Hopefully he’ll be back in the water and as sharp as ever in time for the US Open, the trials for Teahupoo, or any of his various tangos with the world’s best waves.

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