My closest near-death experience was when I was surfing at Nazare in Portugal. I got caught by a 30-40 foot wave and was pulled underwater. I was eventually rescued by a jet ski, but it was still a terrifying experience as I felt my board catching on the water and I almost got pulled off again with no breath. After a few more waves, one of them hit me straight on the head and I was coughing up blood when I reached the beach.
It was one of the best days of my life. I went out in the morning and paddled into a huge wave, snapped my leash, and lost my board. But I managed to borrow another board and paddle back out. I had some amazing rides, and it changed my life. My dad was relieved when I got back safe, and it was such a special day.
To survive a big wave, remain calm and pull your limbs in to protect yourself. Increase drag by opening up like a sail and count to keep your thoughts positive.
I had a terrifying experience at Pipeline in Hawaii. I was surfing and a wave took me over the falls and dumped me into an underwater cave. I was pinned to the back wall by the surging water and couldn't see anything due to all the bubbles. I managed to escape by following my board's leash back out of the cave.
Be intentional with your training and goals as a professional surfer. Train with focus on one goal or skill at a time until you perfect it, and then move forward. Make sure that the training aligns with your goals. Enjoy yourself while still being focused.
I had a challenging surf experience at Nazare where I was caught by a 40-foot wave and got wiped out several times. I came up coughing up blood and it was one of the heaviest experiences I've ever had.