hawaii surfer wipeout
See 40-foot wave swallow surfer
01:02 - Source: Bruno Lemos

Story highlights

It felt like "being in a car crash", surfer says

This year's El Nino has created enormous 35 to 40 foot waves in Hawaii

Surfing champion Kelly Slater also saves a baby and mother swept up in a rogue wave

CNN  — 

Professional surfer Tom Dosland is used to gigantic surf breaks, but none quite like the one he was sent free-falling from on Wednesday in Hawaii’s Pea’hi.

The Aloha state has been hit by enormous waves thanks to this year’s El Nino, sending even the most seasoned surfers tumbling as they attempt to navigate down the near vertical slopes.

In what has become a viral video sensation – social media has termed it the “craziest wipeout ever captured on film” – Dosland is sent airborne from a 40-foot monster wave.

Recounting the experience to Surfer Mag, Dosland likened the intense force to “being in a car crash”. He said he was actually blinded for a few seconds because of the strong sea spray before falling.

“It looked like a sea monster rising out of the ocean when it came my way,” Dosland said. “But I was going. No matter what. So I flipped around and started paddling to get into it.”

“You can’t really tell from the video, but there was some wind blowing spray up the face as I was about to drop in, which pretty much blinded me for a few seconds. I could only see out of one eye, and only partially.”

He later added: “I was free-falling for a while. It felt like I jumped off a cliff. That’s when my leash stretched out all the way and flipped me over head-first. From there, I hit the face and it was just a brutal beating, like I was in a car crash.”

Read: Niccolo Porcella’s monster wave

Kelly Slater saves baby

The powerful waves were even enough to force 11-time world champion Kelly Slater on a walk of shame.

Unable to paddle out past the enormous breaks, he returned to shore, fortunately putting him in place for a dramatic rescue of an Australian mother and baby.

Sarah Whitey was pushing her toddler Van in a stroller on a sidewalk when they were knocked over by a large wave and swept up in a wall of water.

Slater jumped in, grabbed onto the stroller, pulled it upright and helped retrieve Whitey, who had been submerged.

The child’s father, photographer Chris Whitey, described the frightening twenty to thirty seconds he couldn’t see either his wife or son, and thanked the surfing legend via his Instagram.

He said his family was “a little shaken still, but doing great considering,” and he was “forever grateful to the great man”.

“It was like a tsunami,” Sarah told Australian broadcaster Seven News.

“The only thing I was thinking of was, I don’t want my son to drown, I don’t want my son to drown. I just wanted to keep him up, so I just held onto that pram as long as I could,” she said.

“There was a point where I got bumped and I let go, and that’s when I thought, that’s it.”