Surfer crushed by 62 ft wave on Hawaii's north shore and survives

‘Wipeout of the year’: Heartstopping moment surfer is crushed by 62 ft wave on Hawaii’s north shore but miraculously survives after spending more than a minute stuck under water

  • Rafael Kroeff, 38, was crushed underneath a 62-ft wave on Maui’s north coast
  • He used a breathing technique to close off his lungs to stop himself drowning
  • Video footage captured the moment the huge wave crashed on top of him 
  • A team of 12 jet skis eventually helped rescue him and his surfboard
  • Windsurfer Adam Warchol was also caught out by the wave but he lost his gear

This is the dramatic moment a surfer was crushed beneath the force of a 62-ft wave in Hawaii, before he deployed a breathing technique to prevent water flooding his lungs.  

Rafael Kroeff, 38, from Brazil, was surfing on Maui’s north coast, in an area known as Peahi, on January 16 when he was caught out by a 62ft-tall wave.

After letting go of the rope of the jet ski that had been towing him, Rafael was left in a dangerous position and felt ‘pounded’ by the wall of water.

Shocking footage, captured by photographer Matthew Catalano, shows the moment Rafael disappears from view when the giant wave crashes down onto him and pushes him beneath the water’s surface.

Rafael Kroeff, 38, (circled) and windsurfer Adam Warchol were caught out by a monster 62-ft wave off the north coast of Maui on January 16

It was only thanks to his experience in the water and breathing techniques he had learned that Rafael was able to survive the incident.

Speaking about being crushed by the wave, he described it as ‘the craziest moment’ of his life. 

He said: ‘So I was trying to paddle over the first wave on a tow board, somehow I made it on the first one but the second wave got me pretty bad, I decided to hold my board to protect the windsurfer, I was worried that my board might hit him.

‘I’ve been working with breathing for over 20 years using yoga and functional training to train surfers.

‘I created my own training program five years ago mixing all that with the foundation on mindfulness of breathing.

‘The wave pushed me down super hard and I had to use the breathing protocols that I developed to survive in that situation.’

The force of the water crashing on top of him kept him pinned beneath the waves for over a minute.

Rafael said that he was able to stay alive in this time thanks to the training he had provided others with to help hold their breath. 

He said: ‘I used a manoeuvre we use to close the glottis [valve between lungs and mouth] so you don’t drink water and sink, I was aware of everything and never lost my consciousness.’

‘I felt the pressure on my ears because I was super deep but super quickly, I had equalised my ears.

‘I was very focused on being calm but it was the longest ever time underwater for me.’

Eventually, Rafael was rescued by a team of 12 jet skis, who even helped him keep hold of his surfboard. 

Windsurfer Adam Warchol was also caught out by the wave and although he survived the ordeal, he lost of all of his equipment. 

Rafael said: ‘He got super pounded also, losing all his gear, but he’s ok.

Following the incident, Rafael plunged himself into an ice bath (pictured) to help him begin his recovery. Despite his lucky escape, he said he is keen to get back into the water

‘My neck got stiff and my throat was kind of blocked for 24hours, but I’m 100% now.

‘I never took medicine or went to the hospital, got back home to Oahu and went straight to my ice bath, and after that I was 80%.’

Not put off by his lucky escape, Raphael is already keen to get back in the water and said: ‘For sure I’ll surf again on a swell like that, those are the days we live for, I feel more alive than ever now.

‘The whole surf community is sending me love messages.

‘It’s been very emotional after the whole thing.’

The clip of Rafael and Adam being smashes by the large waves have been viewed more than 18,000 times so far, with one person describing the incident as surreal enough to be a cartoon, while another labelled the footage ‘wipeout of the year’. 

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