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A Condemned Surfer's 27-Hour Tread

(The Verge) – It’s obvious that surfers need to know how to swim and tread water. The ocean is captive to Mother Nature, so you must be able to hold your own when the skies turn gray, the current gets strong or you’re facing a lineup of intimidating mavericks. But could a surfer tread water for 27 hours? That is the new test of toughness, as a result of South African surfer Brett Archibald’s recent experience.
Archibald had traveled from Cape Town, South Africa to Padang, Indonesia with his sights set on surfing near the Mentawai Islands of Sipora. Once in Padang, he traveled to the Mentawai Islands aboard the Naga Laut  tour boat. When you travel nearly 6,000 miles to surf, you don’t intend on spending your time any other way. But on Wednesday, Archibald found himself without his surfboard or crew, treading water to save his life. While trying to stay afloat, Archibald was stung by jellyfish, picked at by fish and attacked by seagulls. He almost drowned during eight instances before being rescued by a Sydney-owned ship 27 hours after falling into the ocean.
Colin Chenu, John McGroder, Tony “Doris” Eltherington and five other passengers of the Barrenjoey vessel retrieved Archibald from the Indian Ocean, about twelve miles from his final destination of Mentawai Island. In a Huffington Post article, Archibald said, “The human body is an amazing, amazing thing. I don’t think I could have gone much beyond today, by the time night came I might have been cactus. I had to get my rhythm, I was treading water for five minutes, then I’d swim again. I saw land five times, but I could never get closer, the current pulled me away every time.” After being found, Archibald was taken to Panang, West Sumatra for treatment.
The crew had not realized Archibald was missing until the next morning when he failed to wake up for breakfast. They suspected that he must have fallen overboard after getting seasick in the middle of the night. A massive search and rescue effort coordinated by the Indonesian Coast Guard begin soon after. At home, Archibald’s wife, nine-year-old daughter and six-year-old son started a Facebook page Searching for Brett Archibald. Archibald’s wife wrote on the page, “Brett is a good swimmer, he’s 50 years old and has been surfing for over 40 years, so if anyone can make it through this, he can.” Fortunately, she was right and Archibald’s prior experiences in the water were just enough to save his life.
According to the UK Daily Mail, Archibald stated that he now wants to complete his surfing trip before returning home. He joked, “I didn’t fly all that way to tread water for 27 hours.”

Archibald pictured back right. Image taken from: