The Sunday Times - - NEWS -

THIS is the mo­ment when four storeys of foam­ing fury crashed on top of one of the world’s best big-wave surfers.

What hap­pened next is al­most un­bear­able to watch on the video re­play as Bri­tish surfer An­drew Cot­ton was en­gulfed and then spat high in the air be­fore be­ing swal­lowed by the mon­ster wave again. It could well be the most bru­tal wipe-out ever at the fa­mous be­he­moth break at Nazare in Porut­gal.

“I pulled up over a lump,” Cot­ton, 36, said.

“I knew it wasn’t go­ing to bar­rel or that I wasn’t go­ing to out­run it, so I just hit the eject but­ton and thought, f---, I gotta get outta of this.

“Then a whole world of pain hap­pened.”

Cot­ton broke 12 ver­te­brae in his spinal col­umn.

His wife, Katie Cot­ton, 41, was in Por­tu­gal with An­drew and their two chil­dren.

Cot­ton is a for­mer plumber well known for rid­ing some of the big­gest waves ever at Nazare.

His de­scrip­tion of what it felt like on im­pact was also cap­ti­vat­ing.

He said his first im­pres­sion was he felt like he was float­ing.

“I thought, whoa, that’s weird, this shouldn’t be hap­pen­ing,” he said.

“And then it was just like be­ing hit by a lorry, straight into my back.”

It’s gonna get me: Big-wave surfer An­drew Cot­ton mo­ments be­fore be­ing dumped and break­ing his back. In­set: Cot­ton in the ner­vous mo­ments af­ter the in­ci­dent. Main Pic­ture: Oc­tavio Pas­sos/Getty Im­ages

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