A surfing first for CI

Alex Rioda enjoying the competition. Pushed up the beach by Healing waves staff after her semi final heat Channel Islands Surfing Federation (CISF) inaugral CI Adaptive Surfing contest (Those with disabilities) at Le Braye with Healing Waves Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (36753622)

CHANNEL Island Surfing Federation staged the first ever CI Adaptive Surfing Championships last weekend, in association with Healing Waves Ocean Therapy.

Healing Waves is a foundation set up to offer people of all ages who have a disability, to experience the ocean in a safe and therapeutic way.

Co-founder Dom Booth says: “It’s all about inclusion, fun and offering people the chance to experience the ocean. It’s something all of us involved are incredibly passionate about and we are so lucky to get to bring the therapeutic benefits of the ocean to the most incredible people.”

Taking place in the sunshine last Saturday at St Ouen’s Bay, participants competed in two semi-finals and a final to determine the winner.

Six participants competed, five from Jersey and one from Guernsey.

Booth said: “It’s not about the competition for us, but we wanted to offer the chance for people to compete if they wanted to. They all enjoyed it so much and overall it was a great success.”

Each surfer is allowed 20 minutes in the water with unlimited waves allowed, however only the top two scoring rides are taken.

Competing in the event were local surfer’s Ollie Wellum, Ryan Le Monnier, Alex Rioda, Bernardo Houiellebecq and Joe Bray with the overall winner from Guernsey, Rheya Sarre.

Surfer Bernardo Houiellebecq said: “The event was phenomenal.

‘It was run very smoothly and couldn’t have been organised by better people. I’m very proud that I was a competitor in the first-ever CI Adaptive Championship.

“I have made some new mates and I can’t wait to be back out on a surfboard again.

“It has really helped me with my confidence and self-esteem, which has helped me realise that I can do more and I’m capable of doing sports I never thought I’d be able to do.

“Thank you so much to Dom and everyone at Healing Waves for hosting such an amazing event and day.”

Healing Waves has secured both the first and second adaptive surf/paddle boards within the Channel Islands.

These boards enable any individual who may have less physical ability, such as wheelchair users, to access the ocean and participate in surf and paddle activities.

Max Wiltshire, fellow co-founder, adds: “We really want to continue to grow our reach throughout the Island and beyond. It’s such an important cause and our members and volunteers absolutely love it.

“We have great contacts through Surf Ability in Wales. They do very similar work to us and we are in talks about having some Welsh surfers come over to train and compete with us next year, which is really exciting.”

Wiltshire continues: “We are aiming to, with the help of sponsors, continue to increase the amount of training and travelling we can offer our members and hopefully continue our work for many years to come.”

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