Friendly waves

(Top) Last year’s fund-raising dragon boat race in Fremantle, and kids enjoy surfing lessons from Ocean Heroes (bottom).

A FUN dragon boat race will be held in East Fremantle to raise money for surfing lessons for autistic kids.

The Stand Up Surf Shop are organising the November 1 race at the Swan Yacht Club, with all proceeds going to Ocean Heroes, a Perth organisation that teaches kids with autism how to catch ocean waves.

Stand Up Surf Shop owner Nicki Jones says Ocean Heroes do invaluable work.

“Learning to surf offers children with Autism a fun, healthy way to develop confidence, boost their mood and make connections with others,” she says.

“I have personally volunteered at their events and witnessed the children experience riding a wave – the smiles on their faces could not get any bigger.

“Luke Hallam, one of the founders of the organisation is a well-loved member of the Stand Up Padding community in Perth. 

“Stand up paddling and surfing go hand in hand as we all share a love of the ocean.”

Last year was the first time the fund-raising race was held in Perth with 15 teams competing on Australia Day.

The Stand Up Surf Shop had planned to hold it again in April this year, but the date was pushed back because of covid-19.

Ms Jones says the race is more of a fun family event suitable for any skill level.

“The giant inflatable boards will be all set up before the race begins so you can have a play around and get used to paddling, four people at a time. 

“The course will be a short one, out from the little beach next to the Swan Yacht Club in East Fremantle, around a buoy then back to beach.

“Heats will occur, four people to a board, three boards race at a time, to fight for the title to be the ultimate Dragon Slayer. No one stays dry!”

An Ocean Heroes spokesperson said the money raised by the race will be put to good use.

“Kids growing up with autism face unique challenges that can make it difficult for them to develop self-confidence and make friends. Learning to surf offers a fun, healthy way for children to develop that confidence.

“That’s why Ocean Heroes was formed by Sam Moyle, Luke Hallam and Tom Johnston, who teamed up to get it off the ground in 2016. 

“We provide an opportunity for children on the autistic spectrum to take part in organised sport backed by a highly supported, safe and inclusive environment.”

Ms Jones says surfers are generally a kind-hearted bunch who love pitching in.

“The volunteer base who give their time are all part of the surfing or stand up paddling community,” she says.

“There are beach volunteers who help with registration, prepare the children to put on their wetsuits, photographers, and then the skilled surfers who will be on the board with the children.”

For more info on the race go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1005681396546054/

To find out more about Ocean Heroes check out oceanheroes.com.au

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