Watch the shocking moment British surfer Andrew Cotton breaks his back in the 'worst wipeout of my life'

Luke Brown

This is the moment a British surfer broke his back in a horrific wipeout that has shocked the surfing community.

Andrew Cotton, who is a surfer and part-time plumber from North Devon, was in Nazaré, Portugal filing a documentary when he was swallowed up by the gigantic wave.

The 36-year-old can be seen jumping for his life as the whitewater crashes down on top of him, before he is quickly rescued from the water.

Cotton was placed on a spinal board and rushed to the local hospital, where he was told he had broken his back.

But – remarkably – Cotton has said the accident has not put him off getting back on his board in the future, as well as thanking the rescue crew that saved his life.

“What can I say, I got a little excited this morning and ending up having possibly the worst wipeout impact wise of my life,” he wrote on his Instagram page.

“Thank you to all the lifeguards and crew on the beach who helped stabilise me and do a great spinal recovery, I can’t name everyone but you all did your bit to get me safely to the hospital.

Cotton has pledged to get back on his surfboard soon (Getty)

“I have broken my back but I’ve been really lucky, I’m already looking forward and focusing my energy to get fit and back out there on some more big rollers!”

The waves at Praia do Norte where Cotton was surfing, near the fishing village of Nazaré, are famed for being among the largest in the world.

That’s because of a collection of factors. Crucially, Praia do Norte is one of the most westerly points in all of Europe, meaning that the wind sweeps across the Atlantic unhindered increasing the ocean swell.

And then there’s the Nazaré canyon – the biggest underwater ravine in Europe. The ravine is 125 miles long and, at its deepest point, the sea bed is more than 3 miles beneath the surface, resulting in frequently massive waves which can top 100ft.

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