Jade 'Reddog' Wheatley knows a thing or two about surfing.
The 40-year-old double amputee braves the Newcastle waves every day.
'Reddog' lost both his legs 22 years ago in a compact roller accident in 2000 at work.
He taught himself how to surf following the accident, which he said was easy because he had been surfing beforehand.
"I just started going to the beach by myself, and at the time I was in a wheelchair so I would wheel myself down to the beach to go bodyboarding," he said.
"Then one day someone just handed me a surf board and said to have a go so I just tried jumping on."
He said he has surfing to thank for making life as an amputee easier.
"Surfing is extremely therapeutic, whether it be psychological, mentally, or physiological.
"It definitely has given me a whole lot of strengths and fitness, as well as psychological strength."
The competitive surfer has competed internationally, but he said Newcastle is one of his favourite spots.
"Newcastle is pretty world class if you ask me, we are pretty lucky here.
"It is funny here because you can surf 10 to 15 foot waves in Indonesia and it be scary and you start to think 'it's picking up, it's getting bigger' and sometimes you just have to paddle in, cop them on the head, hope for the best and hang onto your board for life. But those big waves can be easy and you don't get held down for as long. Here, I have been ripped apart in two to three foot waves and been in a rip bowl and got held under there and nearly died, so sometimes you just can't pick it."
Despite being an Olympic sport surfing is not a part of the Paralympics, meaning high performing para surfing athletes around the world miss out on competing.
After noticing a lack in surfing competitions for those with a disability, 'Reddog' started his own competition in 2019.
"Before COVID a mate and I held a high performance event in Bali called the Bali Adaptive Pro and that was held in pretty consequential waves. The waves were big, they were perfect and it was basically what we all wanted in para surfing."
The once-off event brought more than 50 competitors, because 'Reddog' said it did not exist anywhere else.
"There were paraplegics competing in six to eight foot waves that were massive and probably double the size of the surf here," he said.
After a highly successful first event he hopes to hold another competition for the para surfing community, once COVID-19 allows.
"After the event a few athletes did speeches and said 'this year you have actually taken para surfing to the next level which I didn't think was going to happen' so I guess we nailed it and there was a lot of good feedback.
"It was obviously a huge success and we want to continue it but obviously we have not been able to do it since because of COVID, and we just have to find some funding and sponsorship for it to make it a bigger and better event."
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