Charlie had a big decision to make. He and his friend Javier were being offered professional surfing contracts with Rip Curl Men. Charlie and Javi were of course happy, but they also didn’t know if they wanted this life. Surfing was a dangerous sport, and if they accepted the contract they would be surfing pipeline all day everyday. Pipeline was the third most dangerous wave to surf, next to 100 foot-waves and Mavericks.
Charlie was really taking this into consideration. He had a family to worry about. He knew his wife wasn’t that happy that he was a big time surfer because her father had died surfing pipeline. Javier was not as good of a surfer as Charlie , but he wasn’t a very popular one. Charlie had made millions of dollars but Javi only made a few thousand.
Charlie called Javier around 4:30 am. “Hey man, they got a major swell coming in in about twenty five minutes. If you’re interested I’ll be at Waikiki Beach.” Charlie headed up to the beach, and what he saw was one of the prettiest sights he had ever seen. The waves were bigger than he expected, they were rising to at the least 39 feet. These were Mavericks. Charlie knew Javi wasn’t trained to surf these big of waves. Charlie and Javier paddled out, it was rougher than it looked. Charlie could see a big time wave in the back, he waited a few seconds until the wave grew closer. He started to paddle as fast as he could, and he rose to the top of the wave and he stood. Charlie had his hands up in excitement, until the wave began to cave in and Charlie hit a bump. Charlie went flying, and then the wave crashed.
Javier knew Charlie wasn’t coming up from that wave by himself. He quickly paddled over, ditched his board and jumped in. He searched for what felt like minutes for Charlie. Javi saw a shadow in the corner of his eye. It was Charlie. He picked Charlie up and put him on his board. Javier pulled out his satellite phone and radioed 911. The ambulance arrived on the beach shortly after the call. By this time, Charlie was trying to say something. Before they closed the ambulance doors he said, “Mahalo, man.”
Javier wasn’t sure if Charlie would make it. Javier jumped in his truck, called Charlie’s wife, and raced to the hospital. He met, Angela, Charlie’s wife and Danny, his son, at the hospital. The doctor was rushing Charlie into the O.R.. Charlie was in critical condition. A few hours later Charlie was taken out of surgery. Dr. Bill came to the waiting room with an update. Charlie had a collapsed lung and he blew out both knees. Dr. Bill had awful news for Charlie. He had to tell Charlie that he will most likely never get up on a surfboard again, and he was lucky to even be able to continue walking. A few weeks had passed and Javier was helping Charlie settle back into his house. Charlie asked Javi, “Have you signed the contract yet?”
“No way, man. We were in this together. I am not doing this if you’re not,” Javier said. Charlie began to make a fuss about how this was a huge deal and he needed to go through with it, but Javi just ignored him. Charlie new at this point he had no choice but to keep surfing. He knew that Javier would not sign the contract if he didn’t.
The time came when Charlie had built up the courage to try to get up on a board. It was a struggle for the first few hours, but about six hours into it, he finally stood up on a ten footer. Charlie was ashamed. He was one of the best surfers in all of Hawaii, and it took him almost seven hours just to stand up on a practically baby wave. He paddled back to shore and stormed off. “You miss all the waves you don’t go for,” Javi said.
“So, what? I will never be the same,” Charlie said.
“Get up, NOW!” Javier said. The two men paddled out and a spontaneous swell dropped in. Javier wanted to head back to shore, but Charlie refused. A pipeline came in. Charlie was uncertain if he should go. Time ran out and Charlie had to make a choice. He let the wave go, Charlie started beating the water. “I have never been like this! I have been surfing since I was three and have never backed down.”
“Try again” Javi said.
Another Pipe grew. This was his chance. Charlie was scared. He wasn’t gonna down play it. He just started paddling and paddling until he reached the top of the wave. He hopped up and there it was. Charlie who had just blew out both knees and had a collapsed lung, surfed pipe. No one ever in the history of Hawaii who had an injury that bad has ever surfed pipeline less than month after getting out of the hospital. The smile on Charlie’s face was as big the world.
Javier called his family and told them to get to the beach earlier that day. His wife and son were waiting on the beach, watching their hero make history in Hawaii. He surfed four more waves just like that. Three weeks later, Charlie and Javier were meeting with the United States national Rip Curl Men surfing team. Charlie had made history with his recovery.
“Once a surfer, always a surfer” Charlie said.
That quote went all around Hawaii. Charlie was so good, that two months after getting out of the hospital, the Rip Curl Men offered him his contract again. From that day forward, Charlie and Javier were officially professional surfers. What they worked for their whole lives, and the courage Charlie had to have to stand up on pipeline a month after getting out of the hospital was extraordinary.