surfing with handicap - overcoming boundaries

Surfing with handicap: Find out how adaptive surfing enables people with physical disabilities to experience the joy of surfing and which inclusive surfing programs and success stories there are.

Introduction to surfing with handicap

Surfing with handicap enables people with physical disabilities to experience the fascination of surfing. With specialized surf equipment and adaptive surfing techniques, people with disabilities can actively and safely participate in surfing, contributing to a more inclusive surfing environment.


One remarkable example is the blind surfer Derek Rabelo, who conquers the dangerous waves of Hawaii despite his visual impairment, embodying courage and determination that serve as an inspiration to others.

The inclusive surfing programs offer people with autism, chronic illnesses, deafness and other disabilities the opportunity to overcome their limitations and discover new horizons in surfing.

wellenreiten mit handicap

By promoting inclusion and diversity in surfing, organizations such as the High Fives Foundation and Play & Train have helped to increase the acceptance and promotion of adaptive surfing and surfing with handicap.

These programs show that surfing with handicap is not just a physical activity, but can also be a source of joy, confidence and community for people with disabilities.


Inclusive surfing programs for people with disabilities

Global support for inclusive surf programs for people with disabilities continues to grow, making the joy of surfing accessible to a diverse group of people. Organizations like the High Fives Foundation and Play & Train not only offer surf camps specifically for people with disabilities, but also create a comprehensive network that provides support and community.

The ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship, which takes place in La Jolla, California, acts as a platform to showcase the skills and talents of surfers with disabilities on an international level and to honor their abilities. Surfing with handicap on the big stage, so to speak.

surfen mit handicap protese

Success stories in surfing with handicap

Surfing with handicap has already produced some inspiring success stories. In addition to the aforementioned blind surfer Derek Rabelo, Kerstin, a wheelchair user, shares her inspiring story of how she learned to surf despite her physical limitations and now encourages others to pursue their dreams. These surfers with handicap impressively demonstrate that with passion and determination, obstacles can be overcome and serve as a source of inspiration for others.

Blind Ben Neumann braves the waves and surfs on the Eisbach in Munich. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung accompanied him and spent a day with him. In this inspiring article, you can find out how Ben lives his passion for surfing despite being blind.

Immerse yourself in his world and let yourself be carried away by his determination and courage. Read the whole article here: Only in the water does nothing stand in his way.

Another fascinating example is Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm after a shark attack but is still a successful professional surfer. Her story of courage and determination has inspired people around the world to pursue their dreams and overcome obstacles.

Through her unwavering belief in herself and her love of surfing, she has shown that physical limitations should not stand in the way of living your passion for the ocean.

These stories illustrate that surfing with handicap is not just a sporting activity, but can also be a source of strength, inspiration and personal development. They encourage people with disabilities to leave their comfort zone, develop their abilities and realize their dreams.

Every success in adaptive surfing is not only a personal achievement, but also a victory over prejudice and self-doubt that enriches and makes the entire surfing community more diverse.

adaptives surfen mit handicap

Positive effects of adaptive surfing

Participants from AccesSurf, an organization that promotes inclusive surfing, report a variety of positive outcomes from their experiences. These include physical, mental and social benefits promoted by adaptive surfing. In the long term, participation in adaptive surfing leads to:

  • improved independence
  • increased self-confidence
  • stronger interpersonal relationships
  • positive changes in strength, flexibility, mental health and social interaction

The AccesSurf organization not only offers participants in adaptive surfing the opportunity to learn to surf, but also creates a supportive and positive atmosphere that enhances well-being.


By working with volunteers and experts, participants can overcome their own limitations and develop a deeper understanding of their abilities. This not only leads to physical improvements, but also to increased self-confidence and a positive outlook on the future.

adaptives surfen mit handicap ocean

The long-term effects of adaptive surfing are far-reaching and go beyond the purely physical aspects. Participants report an increased sense of community, an improved quality of life and an overall positive attitude.

These experiences show that surfing with handicap is not just a sporting activity, but also has a transformative power that enriches and positively influences the lives of participants in many ways.

surfen mit handicap rollstuhl

Inclusive surfing through specialized programs

Surfing is a sport known for its inclusive nature, and specialized programs are helping to make the sport more accessible to people with disabilities. One outstanding example of such a program is Open Ocean, which creates a safe and supportive environment for surfers who may not feel comfortable in traditional surf camps.

Through experienced coaches like Johannes “Hannes” Laing and Friederike “Fritzi” Schulz, Open Ocean offers not only the opportunity to learn how to surf, but also a community that welcomes people from different backgrounds. Community through surfing with handicap!

In Germany, the “inclusea” project plays an important role in surfing with disabilities, developing adaptive surfing techniques to promote inclusion in surfing and facilitate access to surfing for people with disabilities.

This initiative shows how the sport of surfing is continually evolving to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy the waves and experience the physical and mental health benefits of surfing.

Promoting inclusive surfing programs not only expands the sporting community, but also raises awareness of diversity and the abilities of each individual.

Adaptive surfing with a handicap here on Fuerteventura

Adaptive surfing with Fuerte Tribu also here on Fuerteventura

The Fuerte Tribu Surf School, a surf school on Fuerteventura, is also dedicated to adaptive surfing. The staff share their passion for the ocean with people with different disabilities: physical, sensory and intellectual.

The healing effects of nature and the emotions we feel while surfing have been proven to have positive effects on mental and physical health. Fuerte Tribu is fully committed to safe, inclusive adaptive surf lessons tailored to the individual needs of each student.

“Surfing is a gift that can be shared with everyone.”

Students blossom and gain instant confidence. Fuerte Tribu’s mission is to raise awareness of surfing as an educational, inclusive and accessible tool.



nomb changes logo

“Achieving great things with a community of NOMB Changers. For a greener, fairer and more social world.”

Para Surfing with NOMB Changes

The Canarian non-profit association NOMB Changes is passionate about para surfing. NOMB Changes is committed to adaptive surfing courses that enable people with different abilities to enjoy surfing.

For example, they supported para surfer Christopher Fernandéz, who you can see in the photo with surf coach Angie. He had suffered a serious fall from the 7th floor of a building when he was just one year old, resulting in significant physical and mental trauma. Doctors considered his chances of ever walking again to be extremely slim. He overcame enormous obstacles to learn to surf.

With the support of NOMB Changes and experienced coach Angie, he ventured into the Spanish National Para Surf League. His impressive skills inspire us all. You can find more info here: