A nose poke is very dangerous, a surfer is vulnerable to serious injury when he is catapulted down the face of a steep large wave. In large surf, risks include long hold downs and drowning. Escaping a poke and surviving a big steep air drop clinging by your toes, then shooting out of a deep pit with powerful spray at your back, is a joy of surfing. This and many other joys drive surfers to seek more thrills and bigger waves. These experiences shared with friends are life time memories. The worst memories are losing friends or any fellow surfer who share the passion, commitment and love for the sport. Let's take a moment to remember those who are no longer with us, as a tribute to all.
Nose pokes have lead to the deaths of two Hawaii Surfers, Mark Foo and Kirk Passemore.
Although the pokes did not cause drowning or death, they led to dangerous circumstances which did. The sad endings can bring life lessons to all fellow surfers. Videos are not featured due to remorseful content, instead, with warning, photos from each ride are.
Mark Foo was a legendary big wave surfer from Hawaii, who drowned at Mavericks. Mark fell after a nose poke and drowned in a two wave hold down. Sion Milosky, from Hawaii, also drowned at Mavericks. Sion drowned in a bad wipe following a long grueling and physical session. Marc Ma , a Hawaii College student, drowned in a Lake Tahoe standup paddling mishap. Strong winds drove his group off shore and Marc departed to get help. The group was saved while Marc disappeared. Hawaiians lack cold water acclimation. Surfers and swimmers who regularly expose themselves to cold conditions are acclimated. All surfers and swimmers are not equal.
Casimir Pulaski shares, the sympathetic nervous system safe guards our organs from cold temperature, by restricting blood circulation to our extremities. The sympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system, which we do not voluntarily control. The autonomic nervous system unconsciously controls our heart rate and respiratory rate.
In cold water emersion, restricted circulation, combined with a lack of oxygen, and lack of conditioning has a numbing effect on extremities. Our arms and legs which we need for survival, can become numb, ineffective, and useless.
Cold water conditioning develops an ability to swim and function in cold water, for longer periods of time. This may extend survival in perilous conditions. The following video demonstrates Johanna Nordblad's ability to swim over 50 meters under ice without air.
Warning: The following discussion and pictures feature fatal rides. Mark Foo's fatal ride began with a late take off and free fall. The underside of the surfboard's nose or bow impacts the wave with high gravitational force. According to Chemist Barrett Stoller, cold water is less viscous than warm and is more resistant to impact and displacement. Thus the same speeding surfboard will decelerate more at Mavericks than in warm Hawaiian waters. Abrupt deceleration is a factor Mark Foo was possibly not expecting. Spray from a bow wave shoots over the nose of his surfboard. The bow wave blocks the surfboard and launches Mark into the cold dark depths.
Photo from youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxgN7Jh9M18
Mike Parsons, a famous surfer out that fatal day, confirmed that Mark was under for at least two waves. He bumped into him while rolling under water. Mike wiped out on a wave immediately behind Mark's
Kirk Passemore encounters large chop in his last ride. Shadows define the chop which extends below his board. The bow of his surfboard plows into the chop. Spray from a bow wave shoots over the surfboard nose. His surfboard abruptly stops and Kirk is launched. If Kirk could ride a little farther, he may have avoided direct impact of the wave breaking on him. A witness says he possibly broke his ear drum and lost equilibrium. Kirk did not know which way was up. A second wave may have held him down as he mistakenly swam for the bottom.
Photo from youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGvs0Nv5zJo&feature=youtu.be
It is not possible to avoid a nose poke, eventually everyone does one. The bow of a surfboard us usually flat. Flat bows do not work well when impacting cold water at high speeds or through chop. In such conditions, a round or vee bow will move farther, possibly out of harms way.