Ashtan Davids loved to watch his brother surf. Looking on from the shore, he longed to join in the water. But Davids has Cerebral Palsy. Restricted muscle movement and coordination prevented him from accessing the surf safely. And even though Davids’ brother could take him out in the shallows, his chances of ever catching waves on his own were slim. Until someone flipped the situation on its head by positioning the board as the barrier, not Davids’ condition.
Inspired by Davids’ determination to become a surfer, Projects Abroad Surfing (PAS) offered their support to help him realise his dream. The first step was to have a custom board made. Davids’ ride is cut to his body shape. It’s kitted out with four handles and fins to give him maximum control. Putting in the hard graft on his side, he undergoes physiotherapy and muscle memory training to ensure that his body is up for the task. Thanks to the support of PAS and his family, who have always challenged him to grow, Davids has not only been able to surf, but become a competitive adaptive surfer – a phenomenal victory of spirit over body.
He competes in the Assisted Surfing category, meaning that he requires help to get to the backline and onto a wave, but mounts his board and rides alone. This branch of the sport is only just developing in South Africa. In fact, Davids took part in the country’s inaugural Adaptive Surfing Championship in October last year, placing second in his category. His success earned him a trip to California in December, where he represented South Africa in the World Adaptive Surfing Champs. This is an astonishing achievement considering that Davids’ life was once landlocked. No obstacle is too big when tackled with determination and a little help from others.