Paddle into the Wave: A Lesson from Samoa

A British surfer, Tom Gogola, survived the Samoan tsunami of 2009 by paddling into the coming wave, instead of paddling back to shore. It might have saved his life. According to Dominic Tobin, writing in The Sunday Times (4 October 2009), ‘Gogola survived by heading out to sea; he returned to the devastated shore later’, on the coast of Maninoa, a village on the Southwest coast of Samoa.

This is of course an extreme example of a more common reaction to a huge wave approaching: Paddle into the wave, attacking it, in order to come over the top and avoid being swept under, or paddle in to shore in order to avoid being crushed by the break. Most often, if you are close enough to the coming wave, it is best to paddle into it, despite a common instinct to flee. This seems to have been a life saving strategy for Dominic Tobin.

Likewise with life, when bad things are approaching, you can address them directly, rather than avoid — run away from — them. Often in trying to avoid disasters, we make them worse. We’ll try to bring some examples to you in the pages of this blog.

Bill and Peter