Surfing With Your Eyes Closed

By David Powdrell

Next time you surf, I challenge you to close your eyes while riding the wave.

Here’s what prompts the challenge: Last week, my friend Chris Keet (Surf Happens) called and asked if I’d come down to Santa Claus Lane to shoot a few photos of blind or sight impaired (mostly teenagers) surfing. I’ve discovered in my lifetime that among the most inspiring, interesting, fun people to hang around with are people with challenges. These teens were no different. Happy, grateful, funny, brave, and inspirational, all rolled up into one.

It’s important to celebrate the strength, resilience, and determination of individuals facing challenges and to support initiatives that provide them with opportunities to pursue their passions.

The event was a brilliant collaboration between a number of local nonprofits; Surf Happens, Blind Fitness, Wayfinder Family Services, and the Goleta Lions Club.

I’ll let the photographs do the speaking. Thank you, Chris, Brianna, and everyone involved with the event. I look forward to doing it again next year! 

More photos at: Blind Fitness

David Powdrell

Written by David Powdrell

David Powdrell is a Carpinteria resident, photographer, and C.P.A. He often shares his photos and musings with edhat readers. See more of his photos at

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  1. I have done the same while rock climbing, roped in via a belayer of course. It truly changes your perceptions to a higher level. I imagine it’s the same while surfing.
    When I was a teenager, a young neighbor who was going blind asked me to ski cross country locally (in Connecticut) ahead of him. He said he wanted to continue skiing but couldn’t see well as his vision deteriorated. He learned to listen to my skiis going in and out of trees and other barriers. He was so thankful for my help which I didn’t fully understand at that age.
    In California, I befriended Gary, fully blind but who was the cashier at the County’s Administration Building. He loved to play cards, so we often had a group of 4-5 using braille cards and he loved it. Then he asked me to take him hiking. I chose the San Ysidro Trail fire road. At the time I had a black lab, so while we were hiking, he would listen for my footsteps, but at one point I turned around and he was following my dog’s walk toward the edge of the river! Whoa Gary!
    What I remember was the wonderful smiles of the blind people I had befriended, no doubt because my uncle Bob was blind and he loved to be with us kids. Having a knowledge of electronics, he made a ‘zapper’ and a couple of us would hold onto a metal alligator clip while he cranked up a charge, and we all tried to hang on! He also asked my brother and I to read him stories, which we were glad to do.
    I realize this is a bit beyond a seeing person closing their eyes surfing and rock climbing, but it does add another dimension to our existence.


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