You may be aware of the recent growth in the adaptive surfing community, especially with the number of events that have now been set up specifically for them, to give them an amazing platform to show their skills, courage and generally gather as a special community.
Last year at the English Surfing Adaptive Open I was asked to judge and had a fantastic time, and this year I was asked if I could help out to make things go more smoothly on the land, which of course I was very honoured to do.
Surfing England, with the support of The Wave and Stance, put on the event which this year consisted of a training day on Saturday based in the classroom before moving to the beach, and then the competition took place throughout the day on Sunday.
Set up was on Friday evening involving the core team from Surfing England as well as a number of us who had volunteered to help out through the weekend. As competitors began to arrive from all over the world, you could see the special camaraderie between them. Friday night ended up with a meal together and the event site all ready to go for Saturday.
Whilst in the rest of the UK temperatures rose to around 32° C with bright sunshine, unfortunately until around 3pm Fistral Beach in Newquay had fog and temperatures of only around 19° C!
The training was held by Ben with Toby from Surfability helped by Kirsty, who have many years’ experience in adaptive surfing. Following the classroom experience, the wheelchairs and the various other aids to assist the adaptive community were taken to the beach and the surf coaches became the guinea pigs, showing what they had learnt in the morning. A really informative and fun day which concluded with a couple of drinks together and the silent disco!
Sunday dawned and at least we could see the beach, with heats getting underway at around 9.30am. There were five different categories, depending on the surfer’s challenges, and for every heat there was a team of around 10 helpers in the water and on the beach just in case anything needed to be done, with two to wheel the wheelchairs down from the car park when required.
As the finals started it was high tide Fistral and all I can say is that those competitors were pretty gutsy, literally throwing themselves into the sand at the end of their waves to get the last manoeuvres in.
Of course, there are winners; however, everyone who was involved in this weekend was a winner, – so much banter, so many smiles, sharing of good practice and meeting up with friends from throughout the world. This year there were surfers from Hawaii, USA, South Africa, Australia, Israel; in fact from 10 different countries.
For Christian Surfers, #everysurfer has become a pretty important phrase and this certainly is a fantastic example for this adaptive community to be giving their spotlight and they certainly didn’t let anybody down. It was a humbling experience but one that I’ll never forget. Don’t forget to look out for the date next year – you will not regret it.