After a really nice week of camping in a van driving around in the Netherlands I’m home again waiting for the next days with wind to come although the forecast doesn’t look the best. In my last blog I promised an update about my day at the European surf week for disabled people so let’s start with that!
Just like last year I went again one day to the European Surf week for disabled people organised by Recreas. With about 30 “disabled” people coming from around the whole of Europe, this year again was a big success. The plan was to give a tow in demonstration as it wasn’t windy enough to get planning to give the people and idea of what is possible in windsurfing. Last year we couldn’t get this arranged but this year we had time enough to find a jet ski and the permission to do it. Before we started the tow-in I went on the water to have a look how everybody was sailing. And every time I’m surprised how good they are sailing after just one week. You have to imagine you are blind or only have blurry view from about 2 meters and you are sailing by yourself. I tried to sail with my eyes closed for a bit but it was way harder than I thought, next time you go sailing try to do it yourself and you’ll feel how hard it is. And most of them aren’t just sailing up and down but are also trying sail 360 or body sail 360 and are able to do them by the end of the week, just amazing!
blind, a broken foot and still surfing!
But of course there aren’t only people who can’t see or are partly blind there are also a lot of people in wheelchairs who learn windsurfing, the people from Recreas figured out a whole system to get a chair on the board and get them more stable so the board can’t switch upside down. Beside that they also cut of the down part of the sails to get the boom lower and make it possible for the people to get easily to the other side when they are sailing. These people pretty much can only go downwind and are not able to get upwind again by themself but if you see all those smiles on their faces I don’t think they bother to much about that and just have fun a whole week long! After sailing the whole morning together with them it was time to give them the promised tow-in demonstration.
After getting everybody at the right side of the lake I tried to get as close as possible to the side so the people who couldn’t see too good still could get an idea from what I was doing. I tried to keep it going as long as possible but after 45 min of doing one run after the other I couldn’t hold the bar anymore as my arm was just too tiered. I could show the Burners, double funnels, etc. It was nice to try a few more times the tow-in myself as I normally only do it during competition when there is a tow-in competition. Besides that I was really happy I could show the people a bit more from freestyle than last year, after every single move I did everybody was cheering which gave a great feeling. All by all it was a great day just like last year and for sure I’ll be back next year to give again a tow-in show and give more attention to this great initiative!
But for next year I would like to see even more people, so if you know someone with a handicap who wants to try windsurfing but couldn’t do it so far tell them about this project in Belgium, it is always in the last full week of August and is a week never to forget. Everybody can learn how to windsurf and with initiatives like this we can share our passion with even more people!