The Connection of Blind Surfers with their Instructor & the Ocean

The Connection of Blind Surfers with their Instructor & the Ocean

This is the story about Mei Lan’s experience with surfing: 

“I have never done this before, so we’ll figure it out together”.

This is usually not the sentence you expect your surf instructor to say right before going into the water together for a first lesson. For me it became my most favourite thing to hear from a new instructor.

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“I have never done this before, so we’ll figure it out together”

As I am blind since my teenage years, I need a pair of eyes very close to me when surfing.

I highly rely and depend on my surf coach. We make a very intimate team in the water. The instructor reads the waves, but also is my eyes in every step, or paddle, even from getting out of the car at the beach until the moment right before catching my wave.

Each wave that crashes on my head while paddleing out, he will try to anounce to me. We go through it all really together, only a few inches apart; each time the waves are too big to paddle through and I need to push through, get of the board or wait before walking back in, chilling in the line up or surviving crazy riptides or windy conditions, sometimes even a bit of fear. 

Trusting blindly isn’t just an expression in this case.

"For me the balance comes from within"

The moment the perfect wave presents itself at the horizon, I need my surf coach to see it, check if no one else wants to ride it, no one is standing in front of us and then let me know ‘your wave is coming, paddle, paddle, paddle, …”

I admit, they tend to give me this nice little push every now and then, but after that I am on my own. And I don’t need to explain this to any other surfer, but DAMN it feels so good to ride those waves!

Not having eye side could impact my balance in a negative way, as many people use their eyes to find balance. The opposite is true though. For me balance comes from within. Staying centered, focussed, soft and strong, tense and relaxed at the same time. Balance is a mindset and a choice.

I never need to look down to see my feet, I am used to feeling what my body does without having to look anywhere. I am invited even more to feel my body, move from the inner balance and let the board and the wave do their magic. I love how surfing is both a sport, a lifestyle and a spiritual experience for of teaching for life.

When on a surf board, my mind is only here and now, I am not distracted by things around me. To a certain extend I am also not scared by seeing the size of the wave, I have no clue, until I am on it and then you just deal with it and enjoy!

"For me the balance comes from within"

Having surfed at many places, I have had many different instructors being my eyes. Each team is different, as each person is different. But having a coach that is willing to learn together is the biggest gift. They best know about the ocean, the surf spot, their craft of teaching and surfing, I know best about being blind, about surfing blindly and about how to form a team together in the water.

Teaching each other and finding that common wave is a beautiful adventure each time.


Thank you Mei Lan!

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