NewsBilly Kemper

Billy Kemper In His Own Words

Shortly after WSL Studios released the first episode of WSL Big Wave At Large -- a new series that tracks swells and deploys strike teams into the eye of the storm -- the production team got a call from Billy Kemper.

Kemper, the 2018 WSL Big Wave Champion and four-time Jaws Big Wave Champion, was on his way to Morocco with Koa Smith and Luke Davis to chase a series of Atlantic swells, and he was curious if the At Large team wanted to get in on the trip.

It was a no brainer, the At Large team jumped at the opportunity. And what few knew is that while the Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge was running, this crew was down in Morocco scoring for days on end with the help of local guide Jerome Sahyoun.

Two days ago, Billy was having, "one of the best days of surfing in my life," bagging 15-foot face, 20-second barrels with three of his friends.

Until, on the final wave of a 10-hour session, Billy bogged on a low-tide drainer, got knocked out and injured his right hip, saying he'd "never been hit so hard in his life."

With Koa Smith and others by his side, Billy is currently being treated in a hospital in Casablanca, and will be transported to California within the next 48 hours for further evaluation by his medical team.

Billy said, "everyone at the WSL has been so supportive and I'm beyond overwhelmed by what you guys have done."

We'll be bringing you updates on Billy's condition as they become available and are wishing him the quickest of recoveries.

Below, you can read Billy's account of the day:

WSL Big Wave At Large: Jaws 2020
21:27
In January 2020, massive storms slammed the coast of Hawaii and the world's best big wave surfers descended on Pe'ahi. Watch Episode 1.

Can you walk us through what happened out there?

Billy Kemper: Yesterday will probably be remembered -- aside from the injury -- as one of the best days of surfing in my lifetime.

I was surfing with three of my friends in 15-foot face, 20-second-long barrels. It's something I've dreamed of, something I've been chasing my whole life, and the opportunity to surf in these conditions was kind of like a dream come true.

[At] 6:30[PM] I was just getting one last wave, the tide was draining, it was the lowest it was through the whole swell and I took off on a really big wave, and as the thing hit the bank on the sand it just went so below sea level and broke different than any wave the whole day.

It was pulling so much water off, I couldn't keep my board out of the water, and I fell and within the snap of your fingers, I don't know what happened underwater ... I was just knocked out.

I just couldn't keep the nose of my board out of the water, and the wave threw me so hard I've never been hit like that in my life.

I honestly don't know if I hit the sand or if it was just the power of the wave, but when they cut my wetsuit off last night we saw that there was a little cut on my hip -- it was all sand and only a few rocks -- and if I would have hit a rock my body wouldn't be in one piece.

So, I think I just hit the sand and it was kind of lights out after that.

Atlantic Swell Sneak Preview
0:43
We've been cooking up something with Billy Kemper, Luke Davis and Koa Smith somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere this week. More to come…

Talk about where your headspace is at in this phase of the recovery process.

At this point, when your life flashes like that, nothing in the world really matters but your family. So just getting home to my kids and my wife is obviously step one, and then the road to recovery starts.

You know I've been hurt, I've lost family members, I've gone through everything in life, so this to me means really nothing, I just want to get back to where I'm comfortable and take it one step at a time.

I'm very confident that this isn't going to hold me off for too long, and I'll be in the water back in a jersey in no time.

I'm confident that I just have such an amazing team, from my family to the people around me.

You have a very special connection with your fans, and they just want to hear how you're doing.

Yeah I'm fine, this isn't a career-ender or anything like that. I'm very positive. It was more of like a life flash, and understanding what we do for a living is a wild ride and I'm very grateful that it wasn't a lot worse.

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