Hey guys …
We are Alex and Jenny…
Our mission is to demonstrate to the kite surfing community through our own journey that kite sports are for everyone who would like to be part of this extreme sport. We want to pave the way for other wheelchair users to ride seated and have an even access to schools, instructors, equipment and develop their own style of riding at both recreational and competitive levels. With the correct equipment even wheelchair users are able to go kite surfing and for this we are raising money to get the proper equipment, show to others it is possible and continue developing kite surfing for people in the same situation.
So here’s a little about who we are…
Born on 04/11/1983
Current Location: Northern Ireland
Work: Strength and conditioning coach, Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation…..
I have been into sport and the outdoors all my life, I had a sporting accident when I was young and I broke my neck and back in 2 places. I was paralyzed from the neck down, after 2 years 7 months of hospital treatment and rehabilitation I had my breathing and hand function back!
At University I studied Sports Science and Biomechanics. I have been involved in a variety of outdoor and water sports, I’d just like to point out I learned the hard way of how to adapt ocean sports for me, there was some interesting adaption’s to a surf board to name a few : it involved half a football and gym mats!
The ocean is the place I am happiest, any pain or burning that I feel disappears, my body relaxes… Its my happy place!
Current Location: Greece
Nationality: Greek German
Work: Logistics …and on a mission to take over the world!
In 2009 I had a motorcycle accident which left me paralyzed, bounding me to a wheelchair. after 1month being in a coma, 3 months of hospital treatment and 8 months of rehabilitation in Switzerland I was ready to face my new way of life in wheelchair. I found it hard not having the freedom of choice to return to previous sports or try new ones. It seemed that after a spinal cord injury there where standard sports to take part in, which would not fulfill me as my character.
Before my accident I was into a lot of sports like dirt biking, snowboarding, windsurfing and sailing, these hobbies where a source of energy and my key to freedom, being able to clear my mind. It is hard to believe that even with an extreme sport, being pumped up with adrenaline one can find a moment of total silence and peace…. I have missed that feeling!! I have missed the ocean the way I used to live it, for me it is not enough sitting on a boat but being right in the water being able to touch the wave while making a turn. Yes…. Kite surfing.It is possible it is my dream
So now we are making our dreams real….Until now we have undergone all necessary training required by all kite surfers to progress safely to the water, we have focused our skills around kite buggying as this is the direct next step for developing the independent pathway to the water for people like us with a disability. The only big difference between wheelchair users and able bodied kite surfers is that we will be sitting while kite surfing.
The greatest obstacles would be people’s views and impressions that we would not be able to control safely a complex sport like kite surfing and with the proper gear we can do exactly this.
Physically our greatest obstacle has been finding ways to think outside of the box in selecting solutions for us to perform tasks such as inflating a kite or carrying equipment, often the simplest solutions are the best! For example an extension on the foot peg of our kite pumps so your wheel can sit on top to hold it down while you pump your kite up , or removing the foot pegs from a kite buggy and attaching a tear drop shape handle so we can steer and fly with one hand. We have also spent time becoming physically stronger in our athletic conditioning so our body’s can take the hits from kite surfing, everything from swim sessions to conditioning sessions to improve our strength and overall stability are performed so we are machines on wheelsJ
The equipment we need is the same as any kite surfer, really the only difference is that we need a specialized seat which goes on the kite board which allows us to have full control steering the kite and holding an edge to go up and down wind. This seat is especially designed and tested for 8 years now from Chistophe Martin, to allow wheelchair users to go kiting. Once we get the seat we will be able to progress our levels and effectively further develop the concept. It has taken 4 years of epic fails in realising that kite surfingcan not be performed on adapted wakeboarding equipment which is currently available.A lot of safety testing and procedures are in place to actually make the sport safe and allow independence even without the use of legs.
So right now we are focusing on fundraising events like an abseil on the 20th august 2012 from a viaduct in Northern Ireland, a skydive in Greece and a surfing day again in Ireland. You can sponsor us ourselves or run your own event on your local beach or at your local club.We have brought together a website so to house all of our videos and photos, as well as latest happenings into our journey of kite surfing on the water for people with paralysis; you can contact us through our webpage or donate http://www.solo-kiting.com/
We believe this sport is possible for everyone, not only with the adaptive equipment now available but by the spirit within the worldwide kite community. We want to give the motivation selfbelieve and determination to other people in our situation or simply kiters who no longer can kite standing due to leg injuries. It would not surprise us at all seeing kite surfing soon in the Paralympics now that Rio 2016 will hold the first Olympic kite surfing competition.