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How to Avoid Having Your Board (fins) Hit You

I’m looking for tips on how to avoid having your board hit you when surfing.

Yesterday, I went for a floater/foam climb at the end of a 4’-5’ wave at Hookipa, going left from Green Trees where the wave goes from a shallow reef to a deeper section. I got rolled after the turbulence hit me, and the second that I came up for air, I felt my fins hit my board and my face! I got a fairly severe laceration in both my palm and my cheek. I immediately felt the open wounds and thought “oh no, got to get to Kaiser ASAP to get this stitched up!”.

I paddled straight into the beach, and waved down the west end lifeguards who promptly cleaned and bandaged the wounds (Thanks Jack!).

I’m wondering how one can avoid this?

I got rolled pretty good by the wave, so I really wanted to come up for air, but it sure would have been better to have waited underwater for a second more. I always know that when I don’t feel tension on the leash, the board is potentially in a bad spot. I have no idea how the board could have come ricocheting so hard right at me! Given the force on my hand, the injury to my head could have been quite a bit worse if I had not put my hand in front of my face.

I have noticed that the rollings I get from an unsuccessful floater in hollow waves are quite severe as well.

Any advice for avoiding such injuries?

I’ve had three stitch worthy injuries from surfing, though not all were actually stitched. (Thought the scrotum slice was worth going in for!)

I’ve learned these things:

When you fall jump as clear of your board as possible.

Jump towards the wave if possible, not away.

Fall into a cannon ball position to get as deep in the water as possible, unless surfing a super shallow reef of course. Then you must fall flat as a pancake.

Learn to feel the tension on your leash, that is a good thing! Come up when it is pulling hard, your board is not near you. Of course your leash needs to be the correct length, which is at least the length of your board.

Always come up head first with your arms crossed over your face and your hands back over your ears. Come up slow, work on your breath holds for this!

Keep crazy glue and duct tape in the car!