Robbie Sherwell with his son, Josh Sherwell. Josh is about to start his Pro Junior Surfing career. Photo: Cade Mooney Sunshine Coast Daily
Robbie Sherwell with his son, Josh Sherwell. Josh is about to start his Pro Junior Surfing career. Photo: Cade Mooney Sunshine Coast Daily Cade Mooney / 196890

Surfing coach Robbie Sherwell's horror arm injury

SUNSHINE Coast surf coach Robbie Sherwell has returned from a trip to Indonesia's Mentawi Islands sporting 13 stitches in his forearm after one of his surfboard fins slashed through almost to the tendon at the famed Macaronis surf break.

Despite the severity of the injury Mr Sherwell is counting himself lucky for three reasons.

Firstly he managed to cross his arms in front of his head protecting it from the impact.

He was also lucky he was into the eighth day of a 10-day boat trip and had just scored a first-of-the-morning 30m drainer of a barrel, the memory of which will last longer than the stitches.

And thirdly it was a surfboard fin and not the reef that inflicted the cut.

There was no luck however about the preparations Robbie made for the journey.

"I've had about 170 stitches from surfing injuries and staph infections three times and I don't ever want to get that again,'' he said.

So before leaving the Coast to run a Future Legends surf coaching trip for Mentawi Surf Charters Robbie visited his doctor and loaded up with prescription antibiotics and a medical kit he would never leave home without.

Even though most Mentawi boats carry their own medical kits he always takes antibiotics, staph cream, a suture kit, per-strips, alcohol swaps and pain killers.

"That's enough to get me to a doctor,'' he said.

ROBBIE Sherwell's forearm with 13 stitches from a deep cut while surfing in the Mentawi Islands of Indonesia
ROBBIE Sherwell's forearm with 13 stitches from a deep cut while surfing in the Mentawi Islands of Indonesia

Robbie had headed out for an on-dawn session in a slightly wobbly four foot swell immediately dropping into a wave that saw him "barrelled of my head".

He saw the next wave he took off on was going to warp, something that would normally give him pause.

But brimming with confidence from his first wave, Robbie went for to only to have his fins drop out.

Instinct brought his arms up crossed in front of his head with the back of a fin slicing through his forearm half way between elbow and wrist.

A cardiologist who was surfing nearby came to his aid asking him to attempt to move his fingers, fearful the cut had gone through his tendons.

It was close.

The crew took Robbie to the Macaroni land camp where he was given powerful pain killers and then stitched. The wound was so deep the process took some time.

"I was going just stitch it up,'' he said.

"You are absolutely mad if you go on a surf trip not prepared in case you get injured.

"If you are a surfer you can not think you won't be injured.

MACARONIS surf break in the Mentawi Islands of Indonesia
MACARONIS surf break in the Mentawi Islands of Indonesia

"It's a sport subject to the forces of Mother Nature and a powerful ocean and surfboards have four parts that can split you open.''

Robbie, who returned to Australia Tuesday night, has already spent 11 days out of the water.

He's less focused on the injury than his growing involvement in coaching the stars of the future already under contract to leading surf brands.

The Future Legends coaching gig will involve two to three boat trips plus camps in Bali, Lombok and Australia.

Among his charges are groms as young as five years old who are already fearless at Lakey's Peak and five foot Canggu in Indonesia as well as former King of the Groms Kian Martin, Great Britain Under 16 champion Sonny Perussel and Summa Longbottom, daughter of Billabong team member Dylan Longbottom.

Robbie was able to return to Bali to continue coaching work after the accident, albeit from the beach rather than the water.



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