The International Surfing Association (ISA) today celebrates the success of its first-ever Adaptive Surfing Instructor Certification Program, a major development in the growth and professionalization of the discipline around the world.

Adaptive Surfing instructors take a student out into the water prior to the ISA World Para Surfing Championship. Photo: ISA / Chris Grant

The program, which ran online December 7-11, included 32 participants from fourteen countries, setting a foundation to create a global standard, guidelines, and best practices for the instruction of adaptive surfers.

Developed in partnership with AmpSurfSurfability UK, and the Foundation for Global Sports Development, the program participants featured key regional and global leaders of the sport and surf therapy organizations, as well as past ISA World Para-Surfing Champions, such as Victoria Feige (CAN) and Adi Klang (ISR).  The course, delivered by ISA Presenters Ben CliffordDana Cummings, and Andy Joyce, received excellent feedback from the participants who learned valuable insight to apply to their adaptive surf instruction.

The ISA is recognized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as the International Federation for Para Surfing, also known as Adaptive Surfing. Since 2015 the ISA has been crowning Para Surfing World Champions and building a global network within its 108 National Federations to provide more access to Adaptive Surfing – competitively, recreationally, and therapeutically – for surfers with challenges or disabilities.

The goal of the Certification Program is to create a global standard for those leading Adaptive Surfing or surf therapy programs around the world, ensuring that instructors are adequately trained and have the skillset to work with adaptive surfers.

To learn more about Para Surfing, click here.

Course modules featured coaching tips from international Para Surfing Athletes. Pictured, Team USA’s Christiaan Bailey breaks down Adaptive Surfing equipment.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:

“Making surfing more accessible for people with physical challenges has long been a major priority for us at the ISA. From working at the grassroots level, to hosting the first World Championship, to now standardizing the discipline’s instruction, it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come.

“Surfing has a therapeutic power to heal and bring joy. It’s a gift that needs to be spread around the world to those who need it. Knowing that we now have our first wave of certified instructors to ensure proper practices and techniques, I am confident that we will continue to see the sport touch more lives worldwide and see increased competitive level among the surfers.

“This is one more big step along the path of growing and developing the discipline, a path we hope – and deserves to – one day earn a spot on the Paralympic stage.”

ISA Para Surfing World Champion and program participant Victoria Feige (CAN) said:

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed taking the first ISA Adaptive Surf Instructor certification course.  This course reinforces that surfing is for everyone. It lays a foundation of inclusive instruction and coaching with excellent manuals, videos, and experienced course leaders. Adaptive surfing requires knowledge, creativity, and balance of risk and safety. This past week has provided an awesome framework to help get other adaptive surfers into the water and riding the waves. I can’t wait to put these skills into practice.”

Ben Brondsema (NED), founder of Surfivor Surf Therapy Program said:

“As a former police officer that founded Surfivor in 2019 to serve veterans, first responders, and care takers who are dealing with PTSD, I was thrilled with the opportunity to participate in the first-ever ISA Adaptive Surf Instructor course. Last year our team evaluated the need to include adaptive surfing into our programs since many of our target group have some sort a traumatic disability. The ISA Adaptive Surf Instructor course was a perfect step to learn and add Adaptive Surfing to our regular programs.”