The Crooked Truth

An Unforgettable Experience

04 May 2020

Written by Youth Alliance Co Chair Kurt Peterson

Hey everyone I wanted to share with you an unforgettable experience I had the other day with the disability surfing association at Piha. We first got told the rules of how the day was going to run then got separated into three massive groups of about 25 volunteers in each group. we had a rotating policy which was that you would have 2 groups in the water giving the athletes a surf and one constantly on the shore to pick the next athlete.

We got an each athlete with disabilities to come with us, either by walking or using this rad big beach buggy wheelchair with huge wheels, the people less able we would get them lying on the surf board and we would carry the board into the water until waist deep while yelling  encouragement and cheering them on to make them comfortable in there new surroundings, then the volunteers would line up about a metre a part to make a channel for the surfers to go down where they were surrounded by smiling supportive people as apposed to the daunting open water which as the day went on started to developing a strong current under toe. We would be first there if they came out of our line to direct them back in line or if the worst case happened we would pluck them from the water if they fell off the board.

We hand 2 instructors pushing off when the right wave came and the other was positioned on the back of the board to add weight and direction if there was some veering of course. We had some awards for best ride, most enthusiastic and biggest wipe out.

We put each willing participant, some were not, on 3-4 waves to surf down with the watchful eyes of the volunteers, we did old, young big and small, it didn’t matter and that was the point of it, no one left behind everyone got a go, They all had a real blast, for some them it was their first time surfing and without the support crew it would have been impossible to ensure the safety.

I found the day quite full on and tiring as I had brought a 7mm wetsuit with me which kept me damn warm but but each movement was a struggle with the stiffness, but boy was I warm!!!

We got through around 48 athletes between the 3 groups and with all the thank yous and stocked participants when they came back to the shore it was hugely rewarding to be part of the day and see the real emotional as they attempted it, it was so much fun, then we had a bbq and handed out certificates and awards and mingled with athletes.

One of the most enjoyable thing was how they trusted us and how much support there was for them from all walks of life really showed how giving people are and with teamwork nothing is impossible.

Thanks disability surfing association that was such a special day to be a part of.