Cus­tom board a swell idea


North Coast Weekender - - Front Page - Sara Fitz­patrick

AF­TER break­ing his back in a car ac­ci­dent in 2013, Sean Catlin thought his life­long pas­sion for surf­ing had ended.

The Yanchep para­plegic and fa­ther of two, how­ever, con­tin­ued to ride waves, just in a dif­fer­ent way.

With the help of a cus­tom­made adap­tive surf­board, he now surfs ly­ing face down.

This week­end, the 43-yearold com­petes in the Aus­tralian Adap­tive Surf­ing Ti­tles in NSW.

His aim is to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia at the In­ter­na­tional Surf­ing As­so­ci­a­tion World Adap­tive Surf­ing Cham­pi­onships in Cal­i­for­nia in De­cem­ber.

“For me, com­pet­ing is all about the ca­ma­raderie, get­ting back in the water with my mates and en­joy­ing the ocean,” Mr Catlin said.

Mr Catlin grew up in the Mul­laloo area, spend­ing most of his free time at the beach.

Surf­ing for about 30 years, he has taken his sport around the world to coun­tries such as In­done­sia and Morocco.

“Af­ter my ac­ci­dent, surf­ing was some­thing I put out of my mind,” he said.

“I thought it was some­thing I couldn’t do.

“I lost my iden­tity and my life­style all in one hit.

“Once I saw the adap­tive surf­ing (on In­sta­gram), I thought, ‘this is some­thing I can do, let’s just see how good I can get at it’.

“It has taken me a lit­tle while to find my feet, par­don the pun.”

Mr Catlin used The Com­mu­nity Liv­ing and Par­tic­i­pa­tion Grant (CLPG) to buy his board and equip­ment.

“It’s all a learn­ing curve, a to­tally dif­fer­ent way of surf­ing,” he said.

“It’s not dif­fi­cult be­cause I can read waves; I un­der­stand the ocean and what’s hap­pen­ing.”

CLPG pro­vides up to $10,000 for cus­tomised so­lu­tions that sup­port peo­ple with dis­abil­ity to par­tic­i­pate in fam­ily and com­mu­nity life.

Mr Catlin thanks his spon­sors Na­tional Dis­abil­ity Ser­vices, Ocean-line, Iron Balls Gin and Crea­tures of Leisure (WA).

“I want surfers, who find them­selves in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion to me, to know that there is a pos­si­bil­ity to start surf­ing again; it’s not the end,” he said.

Sean Catlin with his adap­tive surf­board.

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