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A British surfer has broken his back after being crushed by a 60-foot wave off a beach in Portugal.Andrew Cotton, 38, from Braunton in Devon, was at Nazare – renowned for its wild conditions – when he was filmed being wiped-out by the Atlantic wave.He was rushed to hospital in a neck brace and has a fractured spine but is expected to make a full recovery.
“It won’t put me off. Riding the big waves is what we live for,” Cotton told BBC Sport.Cotton, who was wearing a special vest over his wetsuit to protect him from impact, added: “It was a split second of misjudgement. Like an F1 driver taking a turn a fraction too fast. I knew it was bad.”He has previously ridden an 80ft (24m) wave on the same beach and in 2014 survived a fall on a huge wave caused by a storm on the Portuguese coast.He said the conditions had seemed perfect when he arrived at Nazare at 10:30 GMT on Wednesday.”I had caught a few good waves with the guys I surf with and it was going really well at first,” he said.”Then I got a wave that was slightly small at first but I read it wrong. It didn’t do what I thought it was going to do.”Normally I’d try to get into the hollow base of the wave but Nazare is a beach and the waves can be very unpredictable and shifting. Waves don’t always break in the same spot like in some surf areas so a small error of judgement can be serious.
“It just completely changed shape. Normally I’d stay on my board but I knew something was wrong and jumped off.”There was a moment of impact which was the heaviest I have ever felt. I landed on my bottom and then the wave hit my back. “It was followed by a feeling of weightlessness as I was thrown through the air. It felt like it went on for a long time although I didn’t know at the time.”Straight away I knew I’d rattled something so I pulled the chord on my inflatable vest and just hoped the section designed to reduce impact had worked.”Cotton, who started surfing when he was nine, was treated by lifeguards and paramedics after reaching the beach. In hospital, scans showed he had fractured part of his lumbar spine.But he said he will not stop him surfing: “It’s my bread and butter. I will surf at Nazare again for sure.”I’m trying to look at it positively.”
Source: Devon BBC