The INCLUSEA International Adaptive Surfing Summit held in the municipality of Ribamontán al Mar (Cantabria) is the first European event outside competitions to connect surfers, coaches and organizations in Europe with each other. It marks the beginning of a vibrant and inclusive Surfing Community.


The organization recorded a total of 17 hours of surfing and more than 1,000 waves surfed, spread over 187 individual sessions throughout the four-day event. It also held conferences, workshops, group sessions, and a symposium where 21 speakers from 6 different countries gave lectures with technical information. Cultural activities and a good vibe did the rest.

Photo: Pedro Gutierrez, Technical Director and head of the adapted surfing programs of the Cantabrian Surfing Federation, welcoming the participants along with the rest of the INCLUSEA team.

Somo, May 10th, 2023 – The International Adaptive Surfing Summit 2023 by Inclusea, held a few days ago in the Cantabrian beach of Somo, was a success. Not only because it managed to bring together surfers and professionals from all over Europe during its four days of extension, but also because of the very interesting data and conclusions drawn from it in order to unify the bases in the sports training in surfing for people with physical and/or sensory disabilities. It is the first European event outside the surfing competitions themselves that connects athletes, coaches and organizations in Europe with each other. It marks the beginning of a more united and inclusive Surfing Community.

Photo features professor and researcher Dr Ronaldo Gabriel of UTAD

Framed within the European Erasmus+ Sport project INCLUSEA, led by the Government of Cantabria under the Regional Society of Education, Culture and Sport with co-financing, the International Adaptive Surfing Summit brought together more than 200 participants from eight different countries – France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Holland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland – and twenty-five organizations, including the Cantabrian Surfing Federation and the other partners of the Inclusea program: City Council of Ribamontán al Mar (Spain), Viana Surf Club (Portugal), the University of Tras-Os-Montes e Alto Douro (Portugal), the Handi Surf Association (France), the Liquid Therapy Foundation (Ireland) and the Deutscher Wellenreit Verband (Germany), among other entities.

Photo: A good part of the INCLUSEA consortium team members. From top left: Jean-Marc (HS), Ronaldo (UTAD), Fritzi (DWS), Marie (DWS), Javier (SRECD), Johan (HS), Gonçalo (SCV), Luis (RAM), Johannes (DWS), Sandra (HS), Darragh (LT), and Pedro (FCS).

Smiles and surfing

Among the activities included in the event’s program, the practical surfing sessions, led by 52 athletes (24 women and 28 men) with physical and/or sensory disabilities of different ranges, were particularly noteworthy, which took place in a relaxed atmosphere in which smiles and camaraderie took center stage. To highlight the participation of the Vice President of Cantabria, Pablo Zuloaga, who stressed the importance of surfing as a tool for sustainable development, as an economic engine and deseasonalization of tourism, and as a vector of inclusion, accessibility and equality between women and men. Afterwards, he did not hesitate to put on his wetsuit to accompany the surfers on the waves of Somo, which offered good conditions for the athletes.

Photo: Vice President and Regional Minister of Universities, Equality, Culture and Sport of the Government of Cantabria, Mr. Pablo Zuloaga, standing between Mireia Cabañes, world para surfing “stand 3” runner-up and María Martín Granizo, world champion in para surfing “stand 3”. On the right, Javier Cantera, Coordinator of Inclusea, Bluesurfest, and European projects manager of the Regional Society of Education, Culture and Sport.

The organization recorded a total of 17 hours of surfing and more than 1,000 waves surfed, spread over 187 individual sessions throughout the four-day event.

Photo: Superlú assisted by international surf instructor and volunteers.

A team of 45 instructors and coaches, assisted by 81 volunteers, under the watchful eye of the technical staff of the Cantabrian Surfing Federation, was responsible for ensuring safety in the water, and also for collecting all the tactical information for subsequent analysis and discussion during the theoretical networking sessions that were attended by various professionals and specialists from different branches, but which, above all, provided countless inputs for the adapted surfing community in particular, but also for the surfing community in general. “In Ireland, doctors have started prescribing Surfing for different physical and mental pathologies,” explained Darragh Gorman, representative of the Irish Liquid Therapy Foundation (in the picture below).


“You can’t imagine the good that surfing does for people with disabilities. You only have to look around us here today to see it,” said Aitor Francesena “Gallo”, the first blind adapted surfing world champion, who joined the event to unveil a star with his name on the Surfing Walk of Fame in Somo, and to share his experiences at the symposium with other “blue minds”.


His teammates from the Spanish national team of para surfing also participated in several of the activities and workshops spread throughout the municipality of Ribamontán al Mar. We were stoked to have national coaches such as Luis Pérez (Gigi), Lucas García, Uxío Rodríguez, and David Gómez. And the para surfers joined from different categories: Kneel’s Ibon Oregi, Audrey Pascual, and Ibai Hervás. Stand1: Ibon Gurrutxaga and Eduardo Odriozola. Stand2: Joseba Mercader and Xabi Ayestarán, Stand3: María Martín-Granizo and Mireia Cabañes. Prone1: Marcos Tapia, Christians Alonso and Paloma Oñate. Prone2: Ángel Curiel, Ander Goenaga, Cata Lluc and Sarah Almagro. Visual1: Andrés Campos, Aitor Francesena and Carmen López. Visual2: Dani Souto, Celia Gramse, Vega Guardeño and Óscar Pérez.

Photo: Spanish National Para Surf Team coach Gigi giving instructions to the team.


Photo: Surfers Audrey Pascual and Mireia Cabañes taking it to the next level.

Preliminary findings

  • The Inclusea Adaptive Surf Summit is the first European event outside of competitions to connect surfers, coaches, and organizations in Europe with each other. It marks the beginning of a vibrant and inclusive European surf community.

Photo: Portuguese national team members such as current world champ in visual impairment Marta Paço, Tomás Freitas, with coaches Tiago and Silvia from Surf Clube Viana.

  • Adaptive surfing is actively practiced all over Western Europe, even in landlocked countries or countries with river waves or wavepools. Many organizations are active in making surfing more inclusive and accessible. They provide a wide range of surf-related activities, e.g. single session deliveries, weekly programs, or high-performance coaching. The stage of development of the organizations ranges from „In its beginnings“ to „Very experienced“.

Photo: “There already is a lot of experience in the European adaptive surf community. Nonetheless, there is a big demand for exchanging experiences, methods, and ideas, since most organizations tend to specialize in surfing with specific disabilities” explains Johannes Laing, head of adapted surfing at the German Surfing Federation.

  • The INCLUSEA Toolkit proves to reflect the wide range of existing coaching techniques and methods, laying the groundwork for a standardized approach to adaptive surf coaching for people with physical or sensory disabilities.

Photo: Sandra and Johan from Handi Surf (HS), Gonçalo from Surf Clube Viana (SCV), and Darragh from Liquid Therapy (LT) presenting the INCLUSEA toolkit


The INCLUSEA consortium will share freely the results of two and a half years of work of seven organizations from five countries across Europe.

Based on scientific evidence, an academic approach, the good practices from different organizations around the world, and the feedback and conclusions experienced at this Summit, the INCLUSEA team will publish the toolkit by the end of June. It will be downloadable from this website.

This manual aims to help surf professionals to achieve the level of training and development of professional skills appropriate for working with people with disabilities in the practice of this sport discipline.

In addition, the development of this teaching and learning tool will have a direct impact on the promotion of social inclusion of people with disabilities in this type of water sports, while serving to highlight the benefits that surfing has on physical and mental health, also in people with different abilities.


What’s next

BLUESURFEST is a new European Erasmus+ Sport project that gives continuity to INCLUSEA and will allow the new consortium to expand and implement our toolkit in 6 amazing locations across Europe between August and November 2023.

Led by the Government of Cantabria through the Regional Society of Education, Culture and Sports, the Blue Surf Festivals network will take place in:

BSF Germany, host by Deutscher Wellenreit Verband in Warnemünde. Sep. 1st to 3rd.

BSF Ireland, hosted by Liquid Therapy in Donegal. Sep. 22nd to 24th.

BSF Portugal, hosted by Surf Clube Viana in Viana do Castelo. Sep. 29 to 30th.

BSF Spain, hosted by the Government of Cantabria in San Vicente de la Barquera, in October (Date to be confirmed)

BSF Italy, hosted by Italian Surfing Federation (FISW) in Sardinia. October (Date to be confirmed)

BSF France, hosted by Handi Surf in Biarritz. November (Date to be confirmed)


BLUESURFEST consortium was honoured to be officially presented by Vice President of Cantabria Pablo Zuloaga with local authorities in March 2023. Our coordinator, Javi Cantera, presented it during the Summit (in the picture below).



BIG thank you to all participants, organizers, and all institutions involved to make this happen!

We are beyond stoked.

Watch some epic moments:


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Photos and video credit: Edu Bartolomé (Comunica Surf).

Photo credit: Darragh Gorman (Liquid Therapy).

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