Despite battling nerve damage in his neck that caused the entire left side of his body to go numb while in the water at Pipeline, crazy Kerzy persevered to a final finish. Australia’s Josh Kerr paddled out ceaselessly throughout the final day at the Billabong Pipe Masters, after a nasty wipeout sent him to the hospital for x-rays. The excruciating pain wasn’t enough to stop the Rusty team rider, who returned to make it to the final heat against the 2012 ASP World Champion, Joel Parkinson (AUS). Though the injury created many issues for Josh Kerr throughout the event, he believes that he learned a lot from the struggle that will help him calm his nerves in the future. Listen to Kerr’s positive outlook on the entire situation as he speaks with The Surf Channel editor, Shannon Quirk, at Pipeline.
Tell us about your injury at the Billabong Pipe Masters.
Josh Kerr: About six weeks ago, I got slashed really bad from a skateboarding accident and I’ve had some damage in there in my first heat the other day and I’ve had a sore shoulder ever since. My first day I tweaked my neck and then my whole left side went numb, it was bad and I paddled out and surfed the rest of my heat and I came in and they called it like a “stinger”, like footballers get, I guess, with the nerves and all that. Then the same thing happened again but it was much more intense and painful and yeah, it was really scary. It felt like the whole left side was paralyzed. Just pins and needles and tingles going everywhere… Really insane. And then I had to go to Kahuku and get an X-ray and make sure my neck wasn’t fractured. Then come back and keep surfing heats and I was freaked out, like every time I wiped out I was like, trying to stay in tight and not let the neck get twisted or hit the ground, so it was definitely an interesting day (laughs).
What were your thoughts going into those last heats injured?
Kerr: That’s the thing. I kinda just kept thinking “okay, just get out there and when a good one comes, you just gotta make ’em!” (Laughs)
What’s next for you?
Kerr: Next is get this neck fixed and go snowboarding in the winter. (Laughs)
How was the 2012 ASP WCT overall?
Kerr: You know, the last couple of years I’ve had quite a lot of good waves on tour and it was a very exciting year this year to watch. I was in the title hunt stage in the start and then I injured myself and I fell out. The title race between Mick, Joel and Kelly was really just insane. It was really fun to watch in that second half of the year. All the fans, everyone really enjoyed it.
What experiences this year will benefit you for the 2013 season?
Kerr: Getting good waves around the world, that definitely helps bring out a real true champion, you know? With my injury it made me more relaxed actually, it’s just like, going out there just knowing I was injured, I didn’t try and force things to happen, I just waited for the waves to come to me. I think it came to the final and I did try and force something and it didn’t happen, that’s when I gave up priority and then Joel got that really good one after that. And then it went his way, and I think if I would have stayed a bit more patient then I would have come out on top in that final.