Magic happened at Muizenberg beach recently, where dozens of individuals with disabilities, ranging from cerebral palsy, autism, amputations, quadriplegia, hypoxic brain injury and polio, gathered to try adaptive surfing, the sport which sees disabled or para-surfers take to the waves through a group of qualified adaptive surf coaches.
The sport has been around for a number of years, led by Adaptive Surfing SA, but there is new momentum building, to get it firmly off the ground.
Nine times surf champion Roxy Davis, and owner of Surf Emporium, has thrown her full support behind the cause, organising the most recent event at Surfer’s Corner.
More than 40 volunteers, including the NSRI Station 8 crew, journalists and well-known celebrities like Michael Mol, Morne Morkel and Nik Rabinowitz joined Surf Emporium and local adaptive surf champion Ant Smyth to help the disabled ride some waves on 20 October.
The youngest participant on the day was 4 years old, and the oldest, 75 years. They included 9 children from the ‘Warrior On Wheels’ Foundation, 7 surfers from Khayelitsha, and first time surfer Xavier, who is blind.
Davis says the day and the joy that was clearly visible on the faces of those with disabilities showed her how much support they need to make dreams come true.
“The turnout from Warrior on Wheels Foundation, local media and influencers were amazing and we’re so grateful. To witness as many as 10 to 12 people support a person, train them, lift them into the sea, keep them afloat and push them into the waves while catching them at the end of the ride is a sight to behold. Surf Emporium is fortunate enough to have a platform that we can use to affect change in other people’s lives. It’s a great privilege and honour to share surfing and its physical and mental benefits with others particularly those that may not have the opportunity or means.”
A big boost to the cause was the presence of South African adaptive surfing champion Ant Smyth, who recently won the US Open Adaptive Surf Championship. He praised the initiative for the life-changing impact that it has.
“The sea and surfing are therapeutic to everybody. It brings you in touch with nature, it challenges you, scares you and it makes you happy. In a way you can say that surfing is like medicine and I think it’s particularly therapeutic for people with disabilities because it is a leveller – it takes away the obstacles disabled people face on land and puts you on the same level as able-bodied people, in one sense.”
Davis adds surfing has given her so much in life that she has made it her mission to give back some of the magic.
If you would like to get involved in sponsoring adaptive surfing seats, volunteer your time, or even book your Team Building event participating in Adaptive Surfing, visit www.surfemporium.co.za