Kelly Slater was one of several surfers who saved the life of a friend off the Victorian coastline.

Big wave surfer Russell Bierke was in the water at Port Campbell with Slater, Tom Carroll, Ross Clarke-Jones and Ryan Hipwood when his board hit his head and knocked him unconscious. Bierke reportedly went under the water for 45 seconds before his mates came to his rescue and brought him back to shore.

Although he has very little recollection of the incident, the 19-year-old says he's been told Hipwood alerted the others to the danger before friend Ben Serrano - accompanied by Slater - put him on a jetski and took him to land.

"It's super vague," Bierke said, per The Warrnambool Standard. "I remember seeing a wave coming and then I was on the beach on all fours spewing (up water). I can't remember the ski ride.


"(I've been told) I caught a wave and Hippo (Ryan Hipwood) was in the channel and apparently just started screaming. Hippo could just see my board floating then and I think Hippo said another wave passed.

"It was a freak accident. I don't really remember but the wave did something big like dropped out and my board must have hit me."

Local councillor Jordan Lockett was nearby and called an ambulance before giving Bierke oxygen.

"Kelly said, 'Call an ambulance' then I was relaying down the phone what Kelly Slater was telling me - the vital signs. He's got a pulse, he's breathing but he's not well. He was very disoriented. I grabbed the oxygen and ran outside," Lockett told The Standard.

"He had really bloodshot eyes and he didn't know where he was, who he was or what was happening. He was blue. He was like a smurf or an avatar.

"So we got the oxygen on as quick as we could. He had a really big cut (across his neck/jawline) which was swollen so they were applying pressure to that but that was obviously restricting his breathing so that was tricky."

Bierke - who won the 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear event by conquering massive swells - will remain in Warrnambool Base Hospital until the weekend, and said he is still pretty banged up. But he knows thing could have been much worse had it not been for the jetski his friends were using.

"My chest and ribs feel pretty bruised and sore and my jaw's definitely pretty swollen and achy right now," Bierke said.


"Without the jetski it would be a lot different. There was a safety crew out there ... it was definitely good to have a safety crew there because it's a long paddle. It's over one-and-a-half kilometres.

"I know I'm pretty lucky from everyone I've talked to. It's probably good I don't remember much. (I woke up this morning) and I was trying my best to remember but can't really. The way everything came together was pretty lucky for sure."