Normally an accident or condition that leaves someone paralyzed would mean the end for any dreams of surfing. But with modern-day technology and the volunteer efforts of surfers and others around the world, the lineups are open for paraplegic surfers and many other types of disabilities!
‘Life Rolls On’ is an incredible organization that puts on surfing events for paraplegics who want to surf all around the coastal United States. There are dozens of volunteers who come out to help with each event and push paraplegics into waves. But it’s a new surfboard technology that makes it so way more paraplegics can safely surf and surf without having to have a team of people help them.
A WaveJet propulsion motor is built into the bottom of longboards, usually around nine feet long. This motor makes it so that paraplegic surfers can catch waves without a push or all that paddling. All the surfer has to do is hit a button on a watch on the top of the board and you’re off!
The Wave Jet technology was designed and created by Mike Railey. His original intention for the custom boards was for tow-in surfing to big waves, but when he and the founder of ‘Life Rolls On’, Jesse Billauer, saw how it could help paralyzed surfers, they started using it to make peoples’ dreams around the world of surfing come true.
The techniques and technology used to help disabled people surf is called “adaptive surfing.” This encompasses all of the different things you can do – using a special board or having volunteers help. But this doesn’t mean bigger waves are out of the question. Billauer surfs 10- to 15-foot waves in Hawaii.
Each Wave Jet custom board costs around $4000, but many surfers raise money for one through online campaigns like Kick starter and go fund me. Although one of these boards is incredible to have, a small team of volunteers can also aid paraplegics to catch waves.
For more inspiration and definitely a few tears, check out this video, a heart-warming story about a paraplegic mother, Pascale Honore, who still gets to surf thanks to her sons’ friend, Tyron Swan. Swan duct tapes Honore to his back and catches waves off the coast of Australia!
Here at Sunset Surf we gladly welcome anyone with any kind of disabilities to come and surf with us. We have handicapped-accessible accommodations and would love to help any paraplegic brave enough to surf! Our love of surfing and our love of teaching others how to surf and respect the ocean drives our creativity and open-mindedness. If you want to surf, we will figure out a way to get you on a board and out in the warm waters of Costa Rica. We have breaks for more advanced surfers and of course calmer waters for those with disabilities to safely learn while still catching real waves and having an awesome time! We hope to see you soon. Contact us if you have any questions about our accommodations for surfers with disabilities!