Featured Image Credit: Colin Cook via Instagram
By Sarah Sharkey
Colin Cook was enjoying an afternoon of surfing in Hawaii when a shark bumped into his board. Cook fell into the water and the 13 foot tiger shark bit into his leg, but Cook wasn’t about to go down without a fight. He began punching the shark’s nose with all of his might and fighting for his life. During this struggle, he felt his left leg leave the clutches of a shark jaw.
Somehow, he was able to make the swim to shore. Most shark attack survivors would be focusing on the recovery and contemplating never swimming in the ocean again while laying in a hospital recovery bed, but not Cook.
After the surgery, he spent his time in the recovery bed researching ways to get back into the water on a surfboard. Cook said that he didn’t want the incident to get between him and surfing.
The task was a hard one to accomplish. He had an amputation above the knee, which made it hard to find a prosthetic that would allow him to hop up on a surfboard in a bumpy sea and then be able to maneuver through subtle shifts of his weight. There seemed to be nothing on the market that would work, so he decided he needed to make his own.
During his recovery he spoke to childhood friends, Brendan Prior and Max Kramers, about creating the very first above-the-knee prosthetic made for surfing. His friends were able to help because they design racing yacht components.
They had the first prototype ready seven short months after the attack and Cook began using it in his home state of Rhode Island. The learning process was rough, but after many hours of practice Cook is back to surfing in Hawaii every day. His determination to get back in the water is truly inspirational.