AFTER breaking his back in a car accident in 2013, Sean Catlin thought his lifelong passion for surfing had ended.
The Yanchep paraplegic and father of two, however, continued to ride waves, just in a different way.
With the help of a custom-made adaptive surfboard, he now surfs lying face down.
This weekend, the 43-year-old competes in the Australian Adaptive Surfing Titles in NSW.
His aim is to represent Australia at the International Surfing Association World Adaptive Surfing Championships in California in December.
“For me, competing is all about the camaraderie, getting back in the water with my mates and enjoying the ocean,” Mr Catlin said.
Mr Catlin grew up in the Mullaloo area, spending most of his free time at the beach.
Surfing for about 30 years, he has taken his sport around the world to countries such as Indonesia and Morocco.
“After my accident, surfing was something I put out of my mind,” he said.
“I thought it was something I couldn’t do.
“I lost my identity and my lifestyle all in one hit.
“Once I saw the adaptive surfing (on Instagram), I thought, ‘this is something I can do, let’s just see how good I can get at it’.
“It has taken me a little while to find my feet, pardon the pun.”
Mr Catlin used The Community Living and Participation Grant (CLPG) to buy his board and equipment.
“It’s all a learning curve, a totally different way of surfing,” he said.
“It’s not difficult because I can read waves; I understand the ocean and what’s happening.”
CLPG provides up to $10,000 for customised solutions that support people with disability to participate in family and community life.
Mr Catlin thanks his sponsors National Disability Services, Oceanline, Iron Balls Gin and Creatures of Leisure (WA).
“I want surfers, who find themselves in a similar situation to me, to know that there is a possibility to start surfing again; it’s not the end,” he said.