Reef and face. Two words that placed in close proximity in the same sentence induce an involuntary wince. And here’s another one: hole. Yikes!
The hole left by the reef in Keala Kennelly’s face is a reminder that Chopes — or any reef break, for that matter — doesn’t have to be huge and macking to dish out serious punishment. A few days after 2011’s famous Code Red swell, which she charged without a hitch, Keala was taking part in the Andy Irons Expression Session, held in relatively benign conditions, when she was sucked headfirst over the falls inside the barrel (see below). 51 external stitches were needed to sow shut the gaping chasm, plus numerous internal ones.
She wouldn’t return to the wave for two years following the injury, which unsurprisingly left her traumatised — not that you’d know it watching her there now. This year she rode what Kelly Slater called “one of the heaviest waves I’ve ever seen there”, a living, breathing mutant that swallowed her faster than a Tijuana prostitute. Her words, not ours, though we’ll second the comparison.