Surfing is a physically very demanding sport. It requires a lot of body strength, control and explosivity. Additionally, you need to be connected to the ocean in order to ride its waves. Surfing is a tough sport to learn for everyone.
Now imagine a person with a physical and/or mental disability. Being able to surf with a disability is even more challenging.
Spain is one of the leading European countries when it comes to para surfing. There is still a long way to go to make it an inclusive sport open for everyone but we are on the right way. Surf therapy groups are being formed and surf schools and surf instructors are being trained to instruct surfers with disabilities.
Spain actually has its own national league of para surf competitions. In 2022, it consisted of 6 different contents all along the Spanish Coast. Since 2020, surfing is an official Olympic sport. And just recently, the LA 2028 Olympic Games have announced, that they applied for para surfing to be included in those games. That would be a gamechanger, making para surfing accessible to a lot more funds, increasing the speed of the progress of the sport.
In June 2022, founder Angie Ringleb met local para surfer Christopher Fernandéz on our homebase island Fuerteventura. Christopher had been training with the local surfclub Fuerte Tribu (insert link) for the past 5 years. Chris is a very competitive person and really likes to challenge himself. When he was only one year old, he fell from the 7th floor of a building, and suffered severe physical and mental traumas. According to his mum, the doctors said that he might not even be able to walk growing up. But Chris was so determined, he pushed through everything thrown into his direction.
In 2022, he made the decision to take his surfing a step further and start competing on the national circuit. Surf club owner Pili Beneito turned to founder Angie for help. Angie is a very experienced surf coach and a ISA certified judge for surfing competitions. Her experience and competitive knowledge were the perfect mix to support Christopher with the advice and training he needed.
Angie did have to learn a lot more about para surfing. She started by putting herself in Christophers shoes: she tried to catch waves not being able to apply pressure to her right arm, having an overall reduced mobility and struggling with her balance because she couldn’t put weight on her front leg. The result of this test left her speechless, and in sheer admiration for Christopher to be able to surf at the level he does.
Christopher and Angie trained weekly to prepare for the two contests held here on the Canary Islands:
- One the first one, Promesas de Surf, held in July 2022 in Playa Blanca, Fuerteventura, Christopher placed 2nd.
- In the second contest, LPA Open City, in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in December 2023 Christopher obtained the third place, in ocean conditions that were very challenging.