Introduction to the Stoke for Life Foundation watersports program consists of fitting every individual with the equipment and water safety staff that will best maximize that person’s ability in and on the water. Because every person with a disability is unique in their own way like a finger print the same goes for adaptive equipment. Stoke for Life is exploring all options when it comes to adaptive watersport equipment, giving each individual the freedom to choose what makes them feel most comfortable on the water. To maximize each person ability while in the water is a very important goal for us at Stoke for Life.
Stoke for Life has a full quiver of equipment ranging from prone tandem surf boards to beginner and intermediate level wave-ski’s, all the way up to advanced level adaptive race paddle boards and advanced level wave-ski’s for training and competition. Whether you want to just get in the water for the first time and experience new freedoms and independence or if you want to train and compete on an International level, Stoke for Life Foundation wants to help you get in the water and change your life.
Entry level experiences in the water often have life changing effects on people, young or old, able bodied and disabled alike feel the life changing effects the ocean offers. Time in the water should always be safe and fun for everyone. Our goal at Stoke for Life is to give anyone with any level of disability or ailment that same opportunity to have a life changing day in the water. Beginner entry level water time is fun for all involved, participants and volunteers all enjoy this time in the water. Giving someone the experience and confidence in the water is a special gift that everyone can receive.
Intermediate level water time can mean a lot of things; mostly it means progression in one’s ability to be in or on the water with limited assistance. There are plenty of intermediate level surfers or paddlers that still require needed assistance in the water. This is where ones confidence and abilities grow in the water. When someone does a turn of rides the open face of a wave for the first time it is amazing and life changing all in one moment. This is where a lot of people start to find independence in the water, when they discover that they only need limited assistance and can push themselves to the next level. This is also a time when most people start thinking about getting fitted for a board of their own.
Advanced level water time is when a lot of people decide to start training or competing at some level. Most of this time is spent building a bond with a tandem partner or getting coached up by one of Stoke for Life’s knowledgeable water staff members. One thing is for sure this is the time to explore options with different types of boards to see what is going to maximize ones abilities and find what makes you most comfortable in the water.
There are many forms of adaptive surfing but two major standard methods. One is prone (lying on your stomach) and the other is sitting upright and surfing on a “waveski”. A waveski is an adaptive surf board that one sits on and paddles with a kayak paddle.
Adaptive prone surfing is usually done one of two ways, “prone assisted” and “prone unassisted”. Prone assisted has a few different options as well, a person can have someone assist them in catching the wave by pushing that person into a wave and having a few spotters on the inside to assist in getting back on the board and out safely. Another option is to have another person lying on the board with the adaptive surfer and paddle them into the wave and ride it with them. It is all what makes that person feel comfortable and confident in the water. Frequently there is a great bond between assisted or tandem partners; it’s often a powerful life changer for all involved.
Prone unassisted is an adaptive athlete that is fully independent in the water at catching waves, getting back on their board and paddling back out unassisted by anyone. The only assistance they may need is getting in and out of the water. If this sounds like a lot of work it is, but most prone unassisted surfers have put in the hours that it takes to get to this point. If you are strong and comfortable in the water this is a very achievable goal for someone to reach.
A waveski is an adaptive surfboard that a person would surf sitting upright and use a kayak paddle to catch waves. Waveski’s come in many different designs and sizes, depending on your ability will depend on the shape and size of the board which will give you the best stability and confidence to catch and ride waves. There is also a tandem waveski in which an adaptive surfer will ride in the front seat and paddle, and have an able bodied person paddling and navigating both of them onto waves. This is a great method of giving a first time rider the confidence to get on the water and into some waves without having to do it unassisted.
Adaptive Assist or Tandem
There are many different ways to surf adaptive assist or tandem and there are no rules or regulations that define this style other then there are two people on the board. Stoke for Life offers to do tandem adaptive in two basic styles, on the board tandem (an SFL surf instructor on the board and riding with adaptive surfer) and the push in wave method (with SFL water safety crew spotters on the inside) these are the two most popular methods of assisted or tandem surfing but at Stoke for Life we are open and exploring all new options and styles of adaptive surfing.
There are a few different methods of adaptive SUP; one is the Onit Ability board which is a paddle board system which comes with an all-terrain wheelchair that locks onto the board, it comes with out-riggers for stability and a ramp for loading and unloading. This is a great system for all levels of disabilities; it’s very safe and a lot of fun for everyone.
There is another prototype made by Kings Paddle Sports and it is a 14ft race board that a person would sit on top with a riser seat and a knee brace for stability. This design can be transferred to any style board, a touring board, a nugg style board, or in this case even a high performance race board. Stoke for Life has a beginner board in this style that offers safety and stability as well as an intermediate style for better performance.