Forums > Surfing Shortboards

Helmets and head protection

Created by Samuellae > 9 months ago, 22 Jun 2022
NSW, 57 posts
22 Jun 2022 7:16AM
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In the film "Facing Monsters" Kirby Brown says he is "as safe as possible" while charging reef shoreys..yet wears no head protection, or even ear plugs by the looks of it. This seems crazy especially since he is towing in and doesn't even have to deal with looking like a mushroom head in the line-up?!
Tom Carroll just copped a fin to his forehead at Off The Wall needing stitches and rekns the rugby head gear would have saved him the trouble. There are lots of soft helmet options around now, that might be more freeing than the buckety Gath, what do people think of them? Or is the old Gath retro cool to wear again now? How many head injuries have you ever had from surfing?

WA, 541 posts
22 Jun 2022 10:13AM
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So I'm still recovering from a surfing head injury sustained in February. Basically got run over in the white wash whilst duckdiving after I'd signaled to the dip***t that I was there.
Fin to the forehead, board to the temple, monetarily unconscious, blood everywhere. Post concussion syndrome is not much fun.
So the research on helmets are that they don't stop concussions, because it's usually the rotational force of an injury that causes the condition. On a head clash the rotation force happens with the sudden deceleration that occurs. However I do go the mushroom head look (thanks for the visual imagery Sam), mainly to protect my scone from getting gashed by someone elses board. Plenty of cool kids in the line up without leggies. Plenty of clowns ditching the board and swimming under waves without looking....
The problem with the helmet is that it does increase the work that the neck muscles need to do when duckdiving.....
Just my 2 cents worth

WA, 11811 posts
22 Jun 2022 12:39PM
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I started wearing a helmet when I took up windsurfing. But knowing Murphy very well, I now wear it any time on a board. Apart from impact protection it doubles as UV protection on this old bald head. I've never been into fashion or "cool" I figure practicalities are more important.
But I agree with Julian, a big helmet increases head area and puts more strain on the neck when hit by water. You really feel it when the lip comes over and smacks you in the head.

WA, 2519 posts
22 Jun 2022 1:19PM
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I've had a couple of board to the head injuries caused by other surfers that have resulted in stitches - one I was lucky not to lose my eye - and now have permanent muscle and nerve that shows up as a 'lazy' eye when I get tired.

Never tried a helmet. I now try to surf away from the crowds.

And for what it is worth, I saw a photo of a nasty scalping caused by a head vs reef incident... I reckon a helmet would have definitely saved that bloke a lot of grief.

NSW, 57 posts
22 Jun 2022 8:58PM
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Wow these are hectic stories! I always wear one for the windsurf and kitefoiling and it has paid off several times..also happened to be wearing a Gath once in Fiji..and face planted some coral which gave me a free lip piercing and huge scratch down the side of the helmet. That would have been a huge amount of stitches. But I don't usually use a helmet surfing.I've tried a Gath in big surf and felt the beatings were worse with the extra surface area. Once on a big south swell outer bombie I was really seeing stars for a few minutes even though I didn't hit any objects..which has never happened without a helmet on. The footy gear ones seem like they wouldn't have as much of that problem.
But I bet Kirby wishes he had worn one at the end of his movie..

WA, 2350 posts
23 Jun 2022 1:11AM
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I wear a helmet when it is big, crowded or on the odd occassion where I know my ambition is outweighing my skill and I think I can surf shallow barrels.

Ive had a couple of nasty head injuries and finally got a Gath about six or seven years ago. It's always on when we tow surf.

TAS, 2249 posts
27 Oct 2022 8:38AM
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I had worn the gath helmet about 5 years - mainly sun protection , but also added benefit of bit more safety - was petty happy with mine but did get a lot of water in the ears - still have the gath in the car as a back up if needed
started wearing the DMC soft helmets about 2 years ago - IMO bit of a better fit so better sun protection and much better for keeping cold water out of my ears - hopefully help me avoid surfers ears , yet to test it out for impact protection

WA, 667 posts
27 Oct 2022 8:26PM
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I copped a fin to the cheek and nearly lost an eye.Plastic surgery and nerve repair required.Helmet would not have helped.Stopped surfing for 2yrs.
Now I use a leggy no shorter than 7ft
and always cover face and head with arms when getting rinsed.

2 posts
28 Oct 2022 8:45PM
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I relate to and agree with the first two sentences from Decrepit,

I've been wearing a Gath helmet for over 20 years and feel naked without one. Ironically, on a particularly crowded summer morning at Currumbin Alley about 10 years ago when paddling out through a broken wave I felt a whack on the face. The pointed nose of a short board had lifted the visor and gave me a cut above my right eye. When my mate arrived and saw blood streaming down my cheek he said "you're the only old b.....d with a helmet and the only one to be injured."

Fortunately, I only required 7 or 8 stitches but could easily have lost an eye. I don't know whether the helment and visor helped or not but I still won't go out without one.


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"Helmets and head protection" started by Samuellae