HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Pipeline strikes again as one of the world’s top surfers is recovering in a hospital after getting knocked unconscious Sunday.
23-year-old Joao Chianca from Brazil is OK, but reports say he was underwater for several minutes.
Chianca is ranked number 4 on the World Surf League rankings.
It’s still unclear whether he hit his board or the reef, but the wipeout nearly killed him.
On one of the best days at Pipeline so far this season, one of the best in the world, Joao Chianca, was taking off on a bomb when he free-fell from the top.
It was a routine ejection for big wave surfers, but this time, Chianca didn’t pop up.
Fellow surfers and lifeguards, including Ian Bachmann, rushed to help.
“There was actually three more waves that he got on the head, and he was underneath water,” Honolulu Ocean Safety Lifeguard Ian Bachmann said.
“In that moment, things happened so quick, but when we saw his body floating there, we thought we got to get to him as fast as possible.”
They got him to shore, unconscious, and rushed him to a hospital.
But the lineup was rattled.
Among the many surfers who witnessed the rescue was Kala Grace, who nearly lost his own life last winter.
After spending months in rehab, Grace only recently began surfing Pipe again.
Seeing Chianca’s rescue was traumatic for the surfer.
“It was gnarly; I walked straight up, took my leash off, and I was done surfing,” Grace said.
“I saw him laying there completely purple out cold and all the lifeguards around, and all I could see lying on the board was just me because that was just me in January.”
Grace knows he’s alive because of experienced rescuers.
Once again, this weekend, they showed their quick thinking and bold actions.
“They are the best in the world. They saved Joel like yesterday; they saved mine in January. They are scanning the water all day long they are,” Grace said.
Chianca is reportedly in stable condition.
This year’s Pipe Masters contest doesn’t start until the end of January.
The surf world is hoping the 4th ranked surfer will be back in the water by then.
“Joao is like one of the best surfers on the planet, and it just goes to show Pipeline does not discriminate if you are the best surfer in the world or the worst,” Bachmann said.
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