Matt Bromley Grateful To Be Alive After 9’6” Gun Spears Head, Spares Brain At Puerto Escondido - Stab Mag
Matt and the 9'6" Dave van Ginkel gun that almost killed him on Friday. Dave is a South African shaper who became renowned for his Dungeon's shapes in the late-90's and early-2000's. Photo and words from Alan van Gysen.

Matt Bromley Grateful To Be Alive After 9’6” Gun Spears Head, Spares Brain At Puerto Escondido

“How does skull bone crush the nose of a heavily-glassed 9’6” and not the other way around?” asks witness AVG.

news // Sep 4, 2023
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 3 minutes

On Friday, South African big wave surfer Matt Bromley suffered head injuries at Puerto Escondido, after being struck by the nose of his 9’6″ big wave surfboard in 10-15ft surf.

Miraculously, Matt appears to be okay, with the exception of some facial swelling around the site of the wound. The same cannot be said for the nose of his heavily-glassed 9’6″ Dave van Ginkel (see below).

Physiology/materials experts feel free to chime in here – How does bone crush a 6oz-glassed stringer and not the other way around? 

Not a lobotomy tool. Photo by Alan van Gysen

“There is nothing wrong with the bone, no fracture, no cracking. It was just all muscle and tissue and skin that was affected,” No Contest producer Alan Van Gysen (AVG) told Stab, who witnessed the event from the sand. 

“We’ve had some time to let the dust settle and we phone some specialists back home in South Africa to get a second opinion,” explains AVG. “The doctors and treatment here were really good. I think most importantly, it’s just incredible that Matt is actually in very little pain, which is the best case scenario. The nose of his 9’6” missed his eye by millimeters and the wound was really, really exceptionally wide and quite long – running from his eyebrow all the way to the top of his head. The inflammation and the swelling has been normal for this kind of injury. We’re past the concussion concerns, he’s been completely himself and resting well. We’re just watching out to make sure there’s no infection over the next couple of days. Watching him take that beating and then have four waves afterwards pounding him and ripping him out to sea was really gnarly to watch.”

“The local lifeguards tried to put the jet ski in the water, but it instantly broke down and a huge set smashed it back into the shore. Matt was left having to fend for himself, but once he got through the last wave, just trying to stay conscious, some surfers came to his aid who were really, really amazing, especially these one or two young chaps. They made sure that he was safe and paddled him across to a safe spot where they could rally down a fishing boat. A guy stopped and loaded Matt into his boat and brought him safely at the corner of Puerto. It just shows you how quickly these things can happen.”

Matt will be heading back to Cape Town this week, a two-day journey, to get further tests and scans to clear him. “Matt’s father is quite well connected with a lot of big, well respected doctors, so they’ll do some checks and all that and he’s definitely going to need a plastic surgeon to make sure that that scar is better stitched. The doctor just did a very simple exterior job so that if there is any infection it can ooze out,” 

Matt and AVG pass on their gratitude to Edwin Morales, Juan Juan Fischer and the doctors at Hospital Ángel del Mar (Angel of the Sea) for their assistance. “I think it’s just a good thing for those of us who are in the world of media to remind people that Matt is one of the best big way surfers in the world and he got injured here. Puerto is super heavy and there’s quite a lot of people that come out here not knowing how gnarly the wave is. It’s just like these giant 15 to 20 foot waves just pounding the dry sand. Just make sure you are prepared and willing to take the risks,” he cautions. 


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

How Kipp Caddy Got KO’d + Tore His Hamstring Paddling An Outer-Reef Bombie

Spoiler: it involves a friend’s board spearing him in the head…

Sep 26, 2023


How Surfers Get Paid Season 2, Episode 2

Loyalty and the Royalty of the Performance Surfboard.

Sep 25, 2023

The Surprising Link Between Neoprene And The USA’s ‘Cancer Alley’

A forthcoming documentary called 'The Big Sea' will change how you look at wetsuits.

Sep 25, 2023

Radioactive Wastewater From Fukushima’s Nuclear Power Plant Is Being Dumped In The Pacific Ocean

What does releasing 500 Olympic swimming pools of fission fondue mean for surfing? 

Sep 24, 2023

Meet Aranui 5: The 126m, 103-Cabin Luxury Cruise Ship & Home To Olympic Surfers At Teahupo’o 2024

Who's gonna get the Presidential Suite?

Sep 23, 2023

Here’s How The Surfers Feel About The 2024 Schedule

Kelly Slater, Caroline Marks, and nine other CTers share their thoughts.

Sep 22, 2023

Risk Reward: The Dickhead Index

Sam McIntosh explains Stab's business model in light of a recent editorial slip.

Sep 22, 2023

Surfing’s Chief Of Sport Explains Why The WSL Finals Will Remain At Lower Trestles

The Stab Interview: Jessi Miley-Dyer

Sep 20, 2023

Full Frame: A Loaded Scoop Of Emerald Green

Russell Bierke in Ireland, by Arthur Picard.

Sep 20, 2023

Quiksilver Is About To Throw A Week-Long Party In France And Your Name Is On The Guest List

Want to see Clay Marzo, Sierra Kerr, Noa Deane, and more compete against world champs?…

Sep 20, 2023

Cloudbreak’s Back, Trestles Remains, J-Bay And Surf Ranch Gone

Here's the WSL's 2024 Championship Tour schedule.

Sep 20, 2023


Stab Edit Of The Year: Liam O’Brien In ‘Wandering’

An 18-minute DIY surf film featuring one of the CT’s classiest acts.

Sep 20, 2023

How Do CT Surfboards Differ From Our Own?

We got dims from all 51 tour pros and compared them to our Stab Reader…

Sep 20, 2023

Wait…How Did Caity Simmers Get A Spot In The Olympics?

Some sneaky selection criteria means Team USA is beginning to look mighty formidable.

Sep 19, 2023


A Goofyfoot’s Guide To Better Surfing

Parker Coffin and Luke Swanson get illuminated in Indo.

Sep 18, 2023

We Found The Center Of The Surf/Skate/Fashion Venn Diagram

A very fashionable drop from Globe and Austyn Gillette

Sep 18, 2023

Europocalypse Now (or Next Summer At The Very Latest)

Sure signs of surfing’s end times in SW France.

Sep 17, 2023

What’s It Like To Fly Into Russia On Invasion Day For A Surf Trip?

Here's our interview with Stab Highway Speedo guy, Letty Mortensen.

Sep 16, 2023