July 23 - 29  2023: Issue 591


Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Inc. 

Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Inc First Official Competition crew
Left to Right: Lee Ferrier, Lori Foti, Michael Foti, Jack Jackson, Max Devery (from WA!), Sam Bloom, Chris Astill
Back Row: Kirk Watson, John Crampton, Chook Harris
Front Row: Em Dieters 
Notable Absentees: Cam Bloom, Jaz Astill
Photo Byron Chadwick - nomoredahl


Currently the NBPSB is running a raffle now to help with start up costs and equipment purchase. 

YOU could win a brand new board and loads more prizes all while supporting the start-up of the club. Find out more.

Para Surfing, also known as Adaptive Surfing, is a rapidly growing sport that provides individuals with physical disabilities the opportunity to experience the thrill of riding a wave.

The Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Inc aims to provide a platform dedicated for para surfers to engage and mentor others in the sport of surfing. Through its services and activities, the club aims to empower para surfers and create a positive impact on their lives by fostering a sense of community and to promote inclusivity by raising awareness in the wider community. This then facilitates skill development and competitive opportunities for the para surfers.

The NBPSB’s vision is to be a club that is fun and relaxed for those who may only wish to compete at club level. However, it also provides an ideal pathway to National and International events and competitions. With the club's support, para surfers have the potential to build a strong competitive surfing career.  

NBPSBC aims to be where champion Para Surfers are nurtured, all the while making a serious impact on the surfers physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. 

''We are to be a serious part of their rehabilitation or therapy and in turn making a positive impact on their family, friends and other support crew who will also benefit.'' Emma Dieters explains

The longer term goals are to be a club that will offer a range of services and activities tailored to the needs of para surfers, including:

  • Surfing clinics & workshops
  • Surfing competitions
  • Accessible facilities
  • Community engagement
  • Fundraising & sponsorships

The club relies on membership fees, donations, sponsorships, and grants to fund its operations and ensure that its services are accessible and affordable to all para surfers. That's why they have launched the Raffle - which closes August 6th 2023.  Find out more.

On 4th June, Australian Irukandji Para Surfing representative Em Dieters and a group of her good mates including World Champion Sam Bloom, together with Mona Vale Boardriders Club, held the first official Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Club (NBPSB) round at Mona Vale Beach. 

Started in February 2023, just weeks after Emma Dieters took out Gold At 2022 Pismo Beach ISA World Para Surfing Championship and as she was named Surfing Australia Female Para Surfer of the Year in February 2023, this new boardriders club is already changing lives and helping more people feel the incredible power surfing and being in the ocean has.

This week, a chat with one of the founders, Emma about the NBPSBC.

Why did you want to start Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Club?

There seemed to be a big gap between someone who wanted to start up in the sport and doing it competitively. The next step was the Australian Titles and then off to the Worlds and no pathway for people to start out in the sport at grassroots level, which is so important for all sports, not just surfing. 

Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Inc aims to provide a platform dedicated for para surfers to engage and mentor others in the sport of surfing. Through its services and activities, the club aims to empower para surfers and create a positive impact on their lives by fostering a sense of community and to promote inclusivity by raising awareness in the wider community. This will then facilitate skill development and competitive opportunities for the para surfers.

Mentoring – what is involved there – and have you been mentored yourself?

I had lots of support from Sam Bloom and her family. They were really supportive and showed me the way and encouraged me to get into the sport competitively. Sam is a great athlete so I was more than happy to be mentored by her, she made it so enjoyable. In having experienced that I wanted to give back a little bit and give to others what I had received. 

In December 2022 you won gold at the Worlds, in February 2023 you were named the Surfing Australia Para Surfer of the Year and in that same month you ran the first ever Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Club Comp. – you seem to be on a bit of a roll….

Yes, it’s been a wild ride, a lot has happened in a very short space of time. I hope I can continue on that path – it was a pretty amazing first year in the sport. They say that the only way is up, so I’m just going to keep plugging away.

We’re about to do the Australian Titles this August, on the 13th, and that’s when we’ll hopefully requalify to represent on the Australian Team again to go over to the ISA World Para Surfing Games, which runs in November.

The Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Club is also posting on its social media platforms other opportunities and competitions athletes may go in. is that pat of what the club aims to do, fostering awareness of what else is available?

Yes, 100%, and to work with those communities as well to build up the sport from the base level up. My goal is to decrease the age of people within the team. The average age in my first year was 40 to 45, although we did have one member who was quite young. As a sport grows the age decreases and there’s an opportunity to give younger athletes more access to all the sport can bring. I think that’s where the future strengths will be, and I’m just happy to be a part of that now.

Is the Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Club just for local para surfers or can those from further afield join in?

Yes they can, they are definitely more than welcome. We did just call it what it is. There was a core group of 4 of us who were all living around the same area and that’s why it’s called the Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Club, but it’s definitely a place where anyone is welcome.

My vision for this is for other areas and regions to pick up on what we’re doing. Then we could see a club on the south side of Sydney, for instance, from say Bondi and surrounds, work with our club to create a local boardriders club for them and that area. The model we’re working on through our club could easily be adapted elsewhere. 

Once those other regions get established we could have comps like they have through the Australian Board riding Battle.

I need to send a big Thank YOU to Surfing NSW and Surfing Australia about this – they were really stoked when we floated the idea – so that was really cool as well.

So no matter your age or lack of ability, we wish to work with you to accommodate your needs so you can become part of the NBPSBC and MVB community and get out in the water.

The longer term goals are to be a club that will offer a range of services and activities tailored to the needs of para surfers, including:

Surfing clinics & workshops: In conjunction with external organisations the club will organise regular surfing clinics and workshops led by experienced instructors who are knowledgeable about adaptive surfing techniques and safety protocols. These clinics will provide para surfers with opportunities to learn and improve their surfing skills in a supportive environment.

Surfing competitions: The club will organise, inform or assist members to take part in local, national, and international surfing competitions exclusively for para surfers, providing them with competitive opportunities and promoting the sport to a wider audience. These competitions will be conducted in compliance with para surfing rules and regulations to ensure fairness and safety.

Accessible facilities: The club will strive to provide accessible facilities, such as ramps, beach wheelchairs, and adapted equipment, to ensure that para surfers have equal access to the beach and the ocean. The club will also work with local authorities and partners to advocate for the creation of more accessible beach facilities.

Community engagement: The club will actively engage with the local community to raise awareness about para surfing and promote inclusivity. This will include outreach programs, partnerships with local schools and organisations, and initiatives to involve people with disabilities in the sport of para surfing.

Fundraising & sponsorships: The club will engage in fundraising efforts and seek sponsorships to support its operations, including funding for surfing equipment, instructors, competitions, and accessibility initiatives. The club will also explore partnerships with corporate sponsors, local businesses, and philanthropic organisations to further support its activities.

Who were the 4 core surfers?

Sam and I and Kirk Watson and Lee Ferrier from Narrabeen – he was in the Australian Team last year.

The first comp was held on the 11th February 2023. Kicking off with 4 members. 3 who have represented Australia! 2 members integrated in to their respective able bodied categories and absolutely crushed it, Kirk Watson, a blind surfer and John Crampton, a leg amputee had a great time and amazed people with their skills. Both super keen to return next month. 

Sam Bloom and myself had our own Para Surfer heat, being a combo Prone 1 & 2. It was great conditions for us and we were pumped to be out in the water to practise for the upcoming international competitions. We came up the beach after a great surf and were acknowledged by the crowd with applause. 

We were all so kindly welcomed into the Mona Vale Boardriders Club community. I’d also like to thank the guys from Mona Vale Surf Club who keep an eye out for us too. Was a wonderful community experience.

How much is membership? 

This is something I’m still ironing out – at the moment we’ve set it at $100, and also for anyone who does water support, we’ve encouraged them to sign up as well so they will be covered by the insurance. 

We’re also hoping that businesses and clubs and RSL’s will come on board as well in partnership with us. There have already been some great expressions of interest to help with funding for what we’re trying to do, so we’re hoping they follow through.

I’m currently establishing a tier level so businesses that want to come on board in partnership with us, or as sponsors, will know what they’re going to get at each level of input.

Will there be a Social Membership for people who want to be a part of this?

Absolutely; we have that available as well.

How do people get in contact to either join as a member or put their hand up as a local business that wants to support the Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Club?

They can send me an email in the first instance and that link tree is a really good place to go for all the information at this point. We will get a website happening a little bit further down the track. 

Any social events included?

We’ve been running under the Mona Vale Boardriders banner for the first 4 rounds. Round 5 held in June was our first official Meet and we had a social event after that. A lovely girl came and sang after the presentation and a few people hung around for drinks and some great food in the Mona Vale SLSC – huge thank you to Paula Tocquer and Robyn Moore and the great team at Mona Vale surf club for supporting us in that event.

As time goes on we’ll establish a few more social events as part of our annual calendar.

Any surf safaris included?

We are aiming to do these, yes. There is one that Mark ‘Mono’ Stewart has got going up at Byron Bay that is now on the Adaptive World Pro Tour. The 2024 Australian PRO - Adaptive Surfing Championships, will run 17th - 22nd March, 2024 at The Pass, Byron Bay. 

I’ve just been to Hawaii, I came second to Sam by .23 of a point, you couldn’t get much closer, so we did that one and we’re going to Oceanside in September. There was one on Costa Rica in late June, but that’s a bit far to travel.

But next year we’ve also got Byron Bay added to the Tour, so that’s really exciting so the club will have a meeting and see if we can get as many people as possible there.

We already have a really great community we’re part of here and across NSW. We’d like to do some weekends away that everyone can get involved in and bring the family along just to keep our spirits high and build more community.

What is the Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Club’s favourite place in Pittwater and why?

I’m going to say Mona Vale Beach because everyone there has been really really supportive, particularly the Mona Vale Boardriders Club. They have been with us from the start and each round since and helped us put on that June 4 2023 launch event. They have been 100% for us and amazing.

So that is definitely our home beach. The idea is to also get mobile though as we have different needs to the regular guys in, for instance, entering and e3xiting the surf. Sometimes Mona Vale has a big shorey and it’s not safe for us to get in. in being enabled to get mobile we can have a trailer and have everything in that ready to go and make a call at 6.30 in the morning and say; ’we’ve done a surf check, head to Collaroy , it’s too big at Mona Vale’ – as is done with other surfing comps. 

I’ll have to talk to Council about how we’d work that out. I’m aware that Council has been developing and implementing some great policies around making life better for residents with disabilities.

They sure have – the updated Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) 2022-2026 recognises beach access is important. The stated intent is to provide 'Universal access and inclusion across the Northern Beaches that enables people living with disability to fulfil their potential as equal members of the community'. 

Finally, is there a Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase the club will live by?

Yes: Our numbers are multiplying, in 6 short months we have grown from 4 to almost triple that. 

The club is needed, we are wanted. This club will lead the way for Para Surfers inclusion into the Boardriders Club culture here in Australia where the sport of surfing is iconic. 

However, there is a uniqueness that shines through… the relationships built and connections made through this sport are as important as the sport itself.

And so, our ‘motto’ is:

Adversity to adventure, 
Challenges to opportunities. 
We get stoked from the ocean. 
Build resilience and create empowerment
For all those who catch our wave

I’d also like to share some thanks to and for all of those who have helped us this far.

I would like to thank Sargood on Collaroy for providing the beach matting and beach wheelchairs to make the beach a bit more wheelchair friendly for us. Beach wheelchairs can cost 5 thousand dollars each.

We are currently running a raffle fundraiser to make money for set up costs. More matting is on the wish list. 

Also Surf Life Saving NSW has also been super supportive, along with Surfing NSW and Surfing Australia who obviously helped us get started.

We are lucky to currently have Club Supporters who via their services, product or other resources are supporting our Club. Huge thank you’s to:

Mona Vale Boardriders

Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club

Volcom OZNZ

SurfCraft Brewing Co.

Northern Beaches Rehabilitation

Access Adventures

And Byron Chadwick - Photographer

Currently we are running a raffle. All details of our amazing prizes and Raffle sponsors here - https://tr.ee/BuyRaffleTixWinOneOf2SurfboardsOrBoth or again at our main point of contact https://linktr.ee/nbparasurfer 

Emma Dieters at Mona Vale beach. Photo: Byron Chadwick