An Update On Tom Butler’s Condition After His Crazy Nazare Wipeout

Tom Butler explains his wipeout and the aftermath from his perspective and updates us on his condition

Earlier this week a the Nazare Big Wave Challenge Brit Tom Butler took a nasty wipeout during his round one heat whilst absolutely going for it on a solid one. Butler suffered some injuries and was carted off to hospital, and today he’s posted an update detailing the story from his perspective and an update on his condition:

‘A massive thank you to all my caring family & friends from all corners of the world who have messaged me the kindest well wishing words over the last few days. You all know who you are, i’m here for you in your time of need people… To let you all know what was going through my head and what actually happened (of course there’s been un accurate reports in the media..) Before paddling out you know your going to war at Nazare Full Stop…

I’ve been surfing here for the last 5 winters and have loved every minute of my surfing life at this beach, from 3ft fun barrels with all the local crew to catching 80 ft tow in waves with Stdtnr its been non stop good times here. Muito obrigado Nazare and the local crew 🙂

In the WSL heat I wanted to post a solid score and knew I needed to take a decent wave to stand a chance of making my heat. With only 15 mins left I told myself I’m going to take the next big wave that comes my way.. I actually thought I was more on the shoulder of the wave that took me down, thinking I could bottom turn around the section and make some kind of a bottom turn. I was totally committed to the wave and tried my hardest to make that drop. The bit of chop hit my back shoulder and twisted me off axis from then on it was game over making that one! Under water I was fine she hit me hard but I was with it.. The contest vest got in the way a bit, it was hard inflating the vest but eventually I surfaced.

I think the initial impact on the surface of the water actually hurt my ribs. I don’t know what split my ear maybe the board maybe the leash? I rolled in after a few waves on the head super dizzy and disorientated. From hitting the shore the WSL doctors and local ambulance crew looked after me perfectly ( After being the one looking after the patient lifeguarding I know these guys made all the correct steps to ensure I was in best shape for the hand over to hospital.)

At Caldas Hospital I had my ear checked, they said I needed to go down to Lisbon to see the plastic surgeon to stitch my ear properly. I had a few scans and x-rays. The doctors were concerned that they could see a pneumothorax ( air trapped next to the lung that can then crush the lung) So I had a plastic tube put into my rib’s / lung area that remained inside me for a day and a half that slowly pulled any air and water from this area of my body. From Caldas I was taken by ambulance to Lisbon hospital where I spent a further 3 days on the emergency care ward. I seen a lot of very sick people on that ward that haven’t walked out of there so everything was put into prospective very fast.


My ear feels fine it’s wrapped up good and I get the stitches out next Tuesday. My rib is sore but i’m able to move a bit and can do most everyday movements ok just a bit slower with a tiny bit of pain.

A special thank you to my younger brother Jack and his girl friend Jess and my Dad who helped me straight after the wipeout in Caldas they then went back to Nazare to collect all my belongings and equipment. (Sorry I ruined your Nazare trip) The docs on the way to Caldas that buzzed me back with your drugs. The WSL crew who kept me up to date best they could the WSL doctor Terry who visited me in Hospital on his way back to the states. And the two Portuguese legends António Silva and Fransisco the boss for helping me in Hospital and bringing me them cakes and biscuits last night they got me through that A & E ward!

Lastly a huge thank you to the crew in Santa Maria hospital in Lisbon. Although you talk a lot, very loudly and never turn your lights off.. I had a good stay on your ward and had plenty of hours to assess my life.

The best joked I’ve had… My mum last night ” jeez Tom I cant believe you took it that far to not buy me a christmas present” and Gary ” You’ll do anything to get out of peeling them christmas potatoes!”

I feel very grateful to not be hurt worse.. Very grateful to be involved in such a unique sport with such epic people around me. Well done to all the boys who made the final and to Jamie Mitchell for owning them wedges all day long.. See you lot at the next swell! Happy Christmas and a successful happy healthy new years to all my friends.. Thanks again for being so concerned guys and girls XXX’

You can read a full round up of all the action, including photo and video highlights here.