Perilous waves at Hawaii's Banzai Pipeline nearly claimed the life of Brazilian professional surfer, Joao Chianca, on December 3, 2023. Chianca, currently ranked No. 4 in the World Surf League, was practicing for the 2023 Vans Pipeline Masters event when he wiped out, falling into the water and hitting his head. His unconscious body was then submerged by successive crashing waves, hindering immediate rescue efforts.
Surfer's Narrow Escape
The accident occurred when the 23-year-old surfer free-fell without his board, a usual maneuver when a wave cannot be made. However, instead of resurfacing, Chianca remained underwater, believed to have struck his head on the ocean floor or his board. The ensuing waves kept him submerged, complicating rescue attempts by fellow surfers and lifeguards.
Heroic Rescue Amidst Challenging Conditions
According to Honolulu Ocean Safety Lifeguard Ian Bachmann, Chianca was underwater for the duration of three successive waves. By the time rescuers reached him, the surfer was 'completely purple', requiring chest compressions to expel liquid from his body. He was then administered oxygen and regained consciousness.
Chianca's Current Condition and the Banzai Pipeline's Reputation
Chianca, the champion of the MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro earlier in the year and sponsored by Volcom and Red Bull, is reportedly in stable condition now. His near-death experience underscores the danger that the Banzai Pipeline, notorious for its challenging surf, poses to even the most seasoned surfers.