Myself and my son Noah headed out to La Jolla, California for the ISA World Adaptive Games 2017 just 2 weeks ago. Having been there last year, I was really excited to see some of the friends I made last year and I had been literally counting down the days to this trip as it was such a life changer for myself and The Wave team last year.
The opportunity for my 13 year old son to support and help this incredible group of athletes and to be in the minority as an able bodied individual was also too good to miss. It really reset his horizons…
We have always talked about the ability for inland surfing destinations to make a real positive impact on the Adaptive Surfing community, however, this year we have already walked the talk. In partnership with Surfing England we sponsored and hosted the first ever English Open Adaptive Competition at Watergate Bay. It was epic but hugely challenging. As Spike Kane very aptly commented " It was the best worst day surfing ever." However, a precedent has now been set and we have paved the way for future English Adaptive surfing events.
DAY 1 - We had a quick surf and then joined in with the clinic which took first timers and new adaptive surfers to the sea and delivered a surfing experience with plenty of safety support and easy wheelchair transfer to the waves. The stoke was absolutely incredible with people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities riding waves with hoots and cheers and hugs galore. Seeing first timers catching their first ever waves was the most heart warming experience ever and a real honour to be a part of their magical moments.
After the clinic on Day 1 we had the parade of nations which sees all the nations lining up and parading down the main ocean front to an area where all the nations deliver sands from their local beaches and they come together to make the sands of the world in a glass monument. The games are then officially open!
Day 1 - 3 Competition was a huge haze of waves, sunshine and kelp! with amazing competitors gathering their best 2 waves over 2 heats to try and qualify for their respective semi finals/finals.
England's Pegleg Bennett and Spike Kane both had pretty tough heats with Peg picking up a thigh/knee injury and Spike taking some big Kelpy hold downs which seriously reduced his wave riding time.
Charlotte Banfield managed to win her first 2 heats and qualify for the finals day!
Finals Day - Charlotte managed to win silver medal by catching her first ever good sized green wave and backing it up with 11 other waves, she was like a machine out there!
Charlotte Banfield managed to qualify for the English Team through the English Open Adaptive competition we held in the summer and it was incredible to follow her journey from that competition through to becoming a silver medallist in the World Adaptive Championships. Together with Spike and Peg, Team England put in a respectable 16th place with less than half a team attending! Next year we WILL take a full team and get a very high ranking, I am sure.
Huge thanks to Nick Rees, Andy Joyce, Matt Harwood, Tanya Weston, Chris Knowles and Noah Hounsfield for their tireless help, support and laughter. We had such a great trip!
Finally, a huge thanks to Spike, Peg and Charlotte for being an awesome Team England!
I would highly recommend anyone to attend either the English Adaptive games or the ISA World Adaptives games. Both have the most incredible atmosphere and provide stoke for years to come…
Needless to say, we will be delivering adaptive events at The Wave Bristol and London, something we cannot wait to see!
Photos; Chris Knowles