Big-wave surfer wipes out and is rescued with no time to spare

Big-wave surfer wipes out and is rescued with no time to spare

Outdoors

Big-wave surfer wipes out and is rescued with no time to spare

A surfer who wiped out on one of the biggest waves of the day at Sunset beach in Cape Town, South Africa, barely avoided getting pummeled by a second wave thanks to a rescuer expertly picking him up on a jet ski just in the nick of time.

Jem Johnson drove the jet ski towing a rescue sled featuring a series of handles around it. Murray Willcocks sat behind him shooting video from a GoPro camera mounted to a mouthpiece. Both were keeping a close eye on big-wave surfer Darty Louw.

“I could see that Darty was not going to make a bottom turn in time, and knew that he was going to have to go straight,” Willcocks explained to Zigzag magazine of South Africa. “In those situations you don’t really have time to think, it’s almost like you just do it and think about it afterward.”

Johnson sped to Louw in the whitewater as the video shows a second wave breaking to their left and heading toward them.

As he approached the surfer, Johnson used a reverse option on the jet ski allowing Darty to grab on to the sled. It’s unclear if Louw grasped Willcocks’ hand but ultimately he grabbed the sled.

“If you look and listen closely in the video you can see and hear that as I go past Darty I reverse at an angle and get the rescue sled underneath him which gives the person being rescued a much better chance of grabbing one of the handles on the rescue sled,” Johnson told Zigzag.

“The whitewater almost caught us, but we managed to get away and make it out safely. You can also see in the video that there was whitewater for a hundred meters on each side of us so if we didn’t make it we would have been in a lot of trouble.”

Also on BNQT: Female surfer granted world record for conquering 68-foot wave

One witness thought they were in trouble, writing on Johnson’s Facebook post, “From your choice to go in and get out, there wasn’t a single second to be spared. From my view…we thought you were all gonna be gone. Very well done for that gutsy effort.”

Not surprisingly, Louw was extremely thankful for Johnson’s effort.

“No one is more appreciative of Jem’s heroic driving than me,” Louw wrote on Johnson’s Facebook post. “I still owe him a lot of beer.”

Photo is a screen grab from the video.

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