Introducing adaptive surfer and legend, Zoe!

On our most recent Rip Curl  Intermediate Surf Programme we had the pleasure of meeting Zoe, an adaptive surfer who in less than a six months went from never touching a surfboard to representing England.

Zoe had her lower leg amputated after being a passenger in a car accident in 2015 resulting in her lower leg being shattered on impact. After numerous reconstructive surgeries, her leg couldn’t be saved. 

But it wasn’t until September 2021 that she found surfing and had her first lesson. She’s now taking the surf scene by storm! We chatted to Zoe about her journey, goals and future.

When did you start surfing and what was the turning point of giving this ago?

“I started surfing In September 2021 at the wave. I progressed to ocean surfing in October but couldn’t really stand up. I had a prosthetic made in November which meant I was able to pop up as prior to that my prosthetic was filling with water and was impossible to move with so much weight and resistance. I got as much water time between October and December as I possibly could, surfing everything and anything and joined the English team in Pismo Beach California in December for the World Championships.”

You’ve progressed so fast, maybe the fastest I’ve ever seen, how have progressed so much in such little time? 

“To put it simply I’ve surfed at every opportunity. I’ve been incredibly lucky and privileged to have the opportunity to get a lot of water time and access a lot of great quality coaching. I’ve set myself aggressive targets and goals and have worked towards these. I’ve surfed up to 30 hours a month at times and I’ve made sure I’m surf fit by working out and getting into yoga. The freedom of movement and balance that surfing gives me is unlike any other experience I’ve had since losing my leg.”

What’s been the most challenging part of surfing since your accident?

“The most challenging part of surfing for me has been the cost element of the prosthetic. I was sadly unable to obtain a surfing leg on the NHS so had to self-fund a prosthetic that was both saltwater proof and agile enough for me to surf in. The accumulated cost of this prosthetic was 10k GBP. That’s a huge amount of money for a limb with a shelf life of 3 years. The cost scares me and also makes inclusion into any water sports that much significantly harder for any amputees who simply could not find the funds or the credit cards to support these sums of money. Once I had my leg it was a constant process of adapting to conditions. Sometimes my prosthetic can still come loose in big surf.”

You obviously incredibly inspiring everyone whether they are an amputee or not, do you have any advice for someone who is holding back or doesn’t believe they can do it?

“Thank you. I really don’t see myself as inspirational but if I can inspire someone to pursue a dream or work passionately towards a goal then that would make my experience of surfing even more fantastic. I try and live my life in the most creative and fulfilled way possible. I want to live passionately and make the most of each experience I’m gifted with. I try and say yes when I should and advocate for myself by saying no when I shouldn’t. Life can change in the blink of an eye and I have experienced that. That all being said I’m happy to waste a weekend in front of the tv too!”

So far, Zoe has taken her surfing globally and crossed so many countries off her list including; Portugal, Lanzarote, California, Sri Lanka, Hawaii. Next up she competing in the US Open and The Supergirl Pro – Good luck Zoe, we’re rooting for you!! 

Zoe’s an advocate for getting out there and taking on new challenges! She is keen to spread the message: ‘If you want to do something, just do it! It’s later than you think, it’s always later than you think.” We couldn’t agree more!

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