x

Surfing world stunned by Surf Challenge for Autism 2013

by on Monday 15th July, 2013   2368 Visits   Comments

Fistral Beach in Newquay was brought to a standstill this weekend as a group of autistic surfers took to the water in the Wave Project’s Surf Challenge for autism 2013

Top-level surfers including former UK champion Russell Winter and 2012 English national champion Hannah Harding were left speechless as they watched as 32 autistic competitors dazzle on the clean 3ft waves.

They were joined by around 1500 spectators who gathered in glorious sunshine at Britain’s most famous surfing beach to watch the display.

Pro surfer Hannah Harding commented: “People watching just couldn’t believe that these competitors had a disability. They were surfing to such a high standard, it was really great to watch!”

The event was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, and delivered almost entirely by volunteers. Around 70 people helped support the event, including celebrity couple Andy Jordan and Louise Thompson, from E4 show Made In Chelsea, and 16 serving Royal Navy officers and junior ratings from RNAS Culdrose.

The judges, the contest director and all the paid competition staff waived their fees, while Fistral Surf Hire Company gave out wetsuits free of charge. The event was also supported by Newquay Surf Lifesaving Club, which offered free use of its club house and surf boards.

Contest organiser Joe Taylor said: “It was just amazing that so many people came to help support this event to ensure that these young people with autism had their chance to shine.It was wonderful to see so much goodwill from local people, organisations and businesses.”

The contest was a truly international event, with competitors coming from Wales and even the Netherlands to take part alongside surfers from the UK. The overall winner of the contest was 13-year old Thomas Koppelaars, from Zaltbommel, in the Netherlands.

Speaking on his behalf, his mother Marjolijn Koppelaars said: “We’re just so delighted. This has been the best experience of his life.”

Second place went to 18-year old Robert Parton, from Swansea. The other two finalists were last year’s winner Robbie Turner, 16, from St Just and Joe Scammell, 10, from Liskeard in Cornwall.

Wave Project director Terry Stanton said: “This event shows just how relevant surfing is to disability sport. We really want to take the Surf Challenge forward now and make it even bigger and better next year.”

Big Lottery Fund’s Helen Bullough said: “Events like this are so important, not only in creating opportunities for people with disabilities, but also in challenging people’s perceptions of disability and what’s possible.

“It is wonderful that so many spectators came out to enjoy the event and make it such a success. Congratulations and thanks to all involved.”

Comments
Average rating of 5 from 2 votes

2368 Visits -

Feature Bottle Says, Confidence is Key at Bells
13806

Bottle Says, Confidence is Key at Bells

With two events already down the “Dream Tour” is well underway for 2014.

Video Ferg's Quiver, Episode 5 of Growing
13644

Ferg's Quiver, Episode 5 of Growing

Ferg talks about his eclectic quiver of surfboards before putting them through their paces in some of the best waves the North Atlantic has to offer

News Kepa Acero at Approaching Lines
4400

Kepa Acero at Approaching Lines

Internationally renowned filmmaker Kepa Acero comes to Cornwall to host a very special event as part of the Approaching Lines Festival.

Video Dusty Payne in Mexico, Happy Not to be on Tour
11169

Dusty Payne in Mexico, Happy Not to be on Tour

Sandy barrels beat the grind hands-down but the heartbeat of competition never stops pulsing.

Video This and Nothing Else: Peter Conroy
17918

This and Nothing Else: Peter Conroy

A Dublin fire fighter and his obsession with Ireland’s biggest and deadliest wave.

Video Return of the East Coast Kegs
24326

Return of the East Coast Kegs

Does your East Coast look like this?