THE Kingsway High School surfing team had their minds blown and hearts humbled after assisting the differently-abled competitors at the Triggerfish Animation South African Adaptive Surfing Championship on Sunday, 5 August on New Pier Beach, Durban.
The morning left the youngsters filled with gratitude and awe after they shared in the struggles many people live with, which ceases to dampen their noticeably high-spirits.
The contest was hosted and organised by Durban-based Non Profit Company (NPC), Made for More and Surfing South Africa.
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KHS teacher and surfer, Kyle MacFarlane noticed a post on Facebook asking for volunteers to assist at the adaptive surfing contest where 22 South Africans and five internationals would be showcasing their skills in the water. After arrangements were made, he drove the nine pupils of the school team to Durban Beach early on Sunday morning for the champs.
“We arrived early enough to accommodate a surf before the competition started. It was the most beautiful day, there was a light west blowing and it made the conditions perfect the whole morning long,” he said. “Many of the pupils were at first hesitant to get involved with assisting the competitors, but after a while, everyone got really into it and you could see they all enjoyed lending a hand.”
MacFarlane explained that he and his pupils helped the differently-abled levels of surfers. They paddled them out and pushed them onto waves.
“We made a tunnel for one of the surfers, so that in case he fell off his board, we would be close by to assist him,” he said. MacFarlane is keen to get the school team involved again, as the pupils were left noticeably touched by the venture.
KHS pupil Berry Konig shared her feelings from the morning: “It made me so happy to see ear-to-ear smiles on the contestants’ faces as they experienced the freedom of the ocean,” she said. “Not only was I extremely happy, but I arrived home grateful and keen to get involved with everything I am capable of, to make the most of my life.”
Fellow team member, Chris Scheepers admitted he didn’t know what he was in for. “After I got involved, which was out of my comfort zone to do so, I realised it wasn’t bad at all and more just about putting smiles on the surfers’ faces,” he said.
Jarred Lange enjoyed watching his fellow school-goers get involved and help out and friend Robyn Bartholomew agreed that the morning was out of her comfort zone, but very worthwhile.
Dane van der Bank explained that before the event he didn’t realise how their helping out that morning would mean to the contestants. “Much of what they accomplished that morning wouldn’t be possible without a little help. I’d like to think that I helped them as much as they and that experience helped me,” he said
MacFarlane described it as ‘the coolest morning’. “It touched all of our hearts to see the faces of the surfers we were helping. Everyone left filled with gratitude and appreciation for life,” he said.
Director of Made for More and event organiser, Julia van Zyl beamed at the success of the event.
“It was truly something special. All who had the privilege of experiencing it were deeply humbled and encouraged. Spectators were inspired and contestants were admired, respected and honoured for their bravery and surfing abilities,” she said
“We were absolutely blown away by the volunteers and the way in which they served with such joy and grace. We couldn’t have done the event without you, and we are super grateful for your support.”
From this event, the South African Adaptive Surfing Team will be chosen to compete in the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Champs in La Jolla in San Diego, California in December.
Julia explained Adaptive Surfing’s different categories in place to make it fair for all the surfers competing.
AS-1: Surfers who ride waves in a standing or kneeling position and/or have upper limb or below the knee amputation.
AS-2: Surfers who ride waves in a standing or kneeling position and have above the knee amputations.
AS-3: Surfers who ride in a seated position.
AS-4: Surfers who ride waves in a prone position.
AS-5: Surfers who ride waves in any non-standing position, need assistance catching waves but must be independent on the wave.
AS-6: Surfers who have a visual impairment or are blind.
For new surfers or those not quite yet ready to surf in competition were welcome to compete in the fun expression session. If interested in entering or volunteering, visit Facebook page (madeformoresa), website www.madeformore.org.za or email [email protected]
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