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2022 Surf Park Awards Winners: ADG/EpicSurf (Democratizing Access to Waves) 

We’re continuing our look at the winners of the 2022 Waves of Innovations Surf Park Awards. This year we started a new focus on three categories for the industry’s companies and organizations to focus on, which include Innovation and Progression, Sustainability and Democratizing Waves.

ADG’s EpicSurf won for its focus on democratizing waves. Here’s a look at their reaction:

How does it feel to win one of this year’s Wave of Innovation awards?

It’s a real honor to receive the award for Democratizing Access to Waves, especially after learning about the inspiring work taking place across the industry this year. It’s great to see the momentum around this initiative.

I’m really pleased with the programing we’ve been testing with EpicSurf and how it’s been embraced for learning to surf, performance training and adaptive surfing. Collectively, when you look at the efforts across this burgeoning industry, the potential for impact and to expand access to the sport is remarkable.

Why is Democratizing Waves important to your company?

At Aquatic Development Group, we manufacture and sell a range of products from waves to lazy rivers and beyond, but EpicSurf is unique as it’s more than just a “ride” – it’s an experience that offers something for everyone.

From a business perspective, it has been satisfying for our employees to experience EpicSurf come to life with the scale model built at our headquarters. Many of our employees are new surfers and natural ambassadors for the product.

In our industry, we are often focused on the line, waiting times and throughput. With EpicSurf, the “lineup” is positive because all spectators are engaged, cheering and supporting the surfer. This dynamic is all part of the package we look forward to sharing with our customers while creating many new surfers along the way.

How would you like to grow or continue to do this within your organization?

We’ve had the opportunity to shape waves for a myriad of surfers and organizations.

Part of the value we are providing EpicSurf customers includes sharing our knowledge, programming ideas, best practices and suggestions for community-based relationship building, while ultimately democratizing access for more individuals to experience surfing.

Check out the company’s submission:

EpicSurf Making Waves for ALL Abilities! According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population (or about 1.2 billion people) live with some form of disability, and as the surfing industry continues to rapidly expand worldwide, empowering this population is essential. At Aquatic Development Group, we see this as an opportunity to employ EpicSurf, our newest technology, to break down barriers and provide more people with access to waves especially those that do not live near the ocean or prefer a more controlled surfing experience. 

EpicSurf delivers a true deep-water, surfing experience for ALL abilities! To support our vision, we assembled a collaborative network of expert disability advocates to evaluate EpicSurf for inclusivity, accessibility, and potential therapeutic benefits for individuals of varying abilities. Beyond creating a platform for surfing, skimboarding, and bodyboarding, our latest innovation benefits those living with some form of disability. “As an adaptive surfing instructor, I found that EpicSurf creates a consistent medium that lends itself to surfing therapy. Not having to deal with tides, winds, and swells make managing a surfing therapy session easier,” said Justin Speegle, Veteran, AMPSurf Board Member. “The proximity of coaches and spectators to the riders makes verbal communication while riding possible. This lends itself well to group therapy and team building as everyone is cheering on the rider. The surfer bond is one of the things that makes ocean therapy successful but even when a group goes surfing together, the ride experience is not easily shared. This setup completely changes that.” “EpicSurf is great for individuals that do not live near water,” said Michele Ferrauilo, VA, Director of Adaptive Sports, “Especially, for individuals who fear the ocean, giving them an opportunity to surf in a controlled setting with support.” 

EpicSurf shaped waves for Christiaan “Otter” Bailey, para-surfing champion, USA Team Captain, and board member of USA Surfing, ISA Para-Surfing, and the Olympic Surfing Committee, and to date, the only adaptive surfer to charge Mavericks and Pipeline. Previously, the Boise River was Otter’s only stationary surfing experience, which he described as an “adaptive-adverse.” Otter gave EpicSurf positive reviews and has agreed to explore partnership opportunities at prospective facilities for para-surf training. This experienced panel, many retired veterans with invisible wounds, assessed EpicSurf through the lens of the adaptive surfer, testing every possible scenario. They experimented with a variety of surfboards, bodyboards, and adaptive boards; they role-played wipeouts and analyzed surfaces, construction materials, water conditions, and velocity, pool entrances/exits, and the retractable training bar – examining every possible situation. “I see a lot of potential for this to be used not only as a recreational tool,” said Randi Woodrow, Physical Therapist, “but also as an adjunct to a variety of rehabilitation therapies.” 

Once the trials were complete, adaptive participants from the VA and a habilitation center for special needs adults joined a session. A first-time surfer commented, “I have cerebral palsy, and I never thought I could do something like this.” “It’s such a fun and powerful opportunity,” said Scott Hamilton, Director, Lifesong. “The people we support benefit from opportunities like this. Not only is it a blast, but for them to be able to say, ‘I’ve tried surfing!” pushes the envelope of what they thought possible.” Ocean waves are widely embraced for their positive physical, mental, and emotional impact. Now, there’s a growing body of research suggesting the same holds true for manmade waves. “Surf simulation offers tremendous potential to people without access to the ocean,” said Kris Primacio, CEO, International Surf Therapy Organization. When discussing the potential of EpicSurf installations, Primacio shared “I like to describe wave pools and surf machines as ‘wellness centers’ of the future.” 

While both progressive and stationary waves increase access, EpicSurf is the only wave of its kind manufactured in the USA, available worldwide, and economically sustainable in terms of water consumption, power, and space requirements. ADG will continuously strive to elevate the EpicSurf experience for a wider audience of abilities. These valued relationships with the VA, AMPSurf, LifeSong, and USA Surfing are being leveraged to develop best practices and programming for EpicSurf buyers (private and public) so they are empowered to form similar partnerships within their communities. Since launch, EpicSurf has shaped waves for a myriad of surfers, including novice, intermediate, professional, child, veteran, age 70+, adaptive, blind, and more. The reactions across the board indicate this is truly an EPIC experience for ALL abilities! Creating a fun, inclusive guest experience motivates and energizes the entire ADG team, many of which are new surfers.

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