Adaptive surfing has globally become one of the fastest growing sectors of the sport in recent years. We’re really proud that Surf South West is at the centre of the action. One of our most passionate adaptive surfing coaches is Jack Patching, whose enthusiasm for the sport is tangible. Let’s hear a little more about Jack and his hopes for the development of the sport.
The Importance of Being Jack
Jack is originally from London but was introduced to surfing when he came to Woolacombe on holiday as a child. He had his first surf lesson with Nick Thorn but we’ll forgive him for that. Because of his love for the sea, he did a BSc in Oceanography and Earth Science at Bangor University in North Wales. On graduating, he was offered a lucrative job in renewable energy but the call of the tide was to loud. We were lucky enough to have him join our ranks – renewable energy’s loss, is very much our gain.
But what about his surfing story? Jack explains, “Quite simply, I sat next to a surfer in a lecture and he began talking about local waves. That was it. Next thing I knew, I was surfing breaks at every opportunity. I became a member of the University Surf Club and they sent me to Surf South West to get trained. From there it just seemed like a natural progression to keep coming back. I ended up returning every summer to work at the club and eventually became a full time instructor.
Jack continues, “It wasn’t only the surfing that drew me here, it was the strong sense of community, not just in Croyde but also at the school. Will and John really make if feel like a family here – they believe in us, support and look out for us. As a Londoner, I find this sense of belonging really refreshing.”
Jack’s passion for Surf South West is obvious, but where does he see his future lying?
The answer is simple, in the fastest growing genre of surfing in the world today – adaptive surfing.
Jack explains, “I was introduced to Adaptive Surfing by the Wave Project North Devon which has been based here at the surf school for many years. It is a very progressive project providing surf sessions for those, mostly children, suffering from mental conditions such as trauma, anxiety, depression, autism and other spectrum conditions. Post lockdown we are finding this a very real need. We also run projects with the Calbert Trust, the Stroke Association and a local wheelchair basket ball team.”
Jack continues, “John and Will have always believed that surfing should be everyone and I’m really proud of their ethos and the way they have supported The Wave Project and other community projects. I love the fact that more and more people can now take advantage of the benefits of surfing and just being in the sea. It’s empowering because there is a liberation and sense of equality when you get into the waves. The sea is such a great healer, no one should be exempt if they don’t want to be.”
Developing The Sport
There are now four instructors who are regularly involved with the Wave Project North Devon. Jack says, “We try to keep the same instructors on the project so as to build up trust. It also enables us to learn the different teaching skills and communication methods which are required.” At first Jack was helping children that just needed encouragement to build up confidence and decrease their anxiety in life, but increasingly he is seeing children and adults that also have extra physical needs and challenges. This has seen a natural development and move into Adaptive Surfing by Surf South West and The Wave Project.
Jack is also excited to be part of The Wave Project’s, Adaptive Surfing Shows, an adaptive roadshow that will be visiting English surf schools throughout the summer to promote training and methods of inclusivity for the sport.
Adaptive Surfing Centre of Excellence
Jack concludes, “I’m proud that Surf South West are leading the way in helping the sport of Adaptive Surfing. We’ve now been recognised as being a Centre Of Adaptive Surfing Excellence by the Wave Project too. I’d love to keep helping the sport to grow throughout North Devon, the UK and well beyond. I feel that the next stage is to improve the equipment. Yes, we have adaptive boards, slings and beach wheelchairs but there is much to improve within the design process. We also need to make adaptive boards more affordable and accessible for everyone. Here at Surf South West we are hoping we can get local people involved in their design and production thereby providing work for the local community whilst also keeping prices fair for all.”
If you would like to join Jack and be involved with some of the Adaptive Surfing projects run by the Wave Project North Devon at Surf South West, please contact www.thewaveproject.com or drop by the surf school to have a chat with Jack and any of our team.
Email us on [email protected] or phone us now on 01271 890400.
Be great to meet you – the door is always open,
The SSW Crew x