Making waves with a blind surfer
Aitor Francesena is a legend in the Spanish surfing scene. At 14, he lost sight in his right eye to congenital glaucoma. Years later, a surfing accident cost him his vision in his left eye, leaving him completely blind. Still, his love for surfing never waned. Francesena continues to ride the tides, depending on his sense of hearing to judge the size of the waves. Now, he’s giving back by organizing surf clinics for those with disabilities, granting everybody with a dream and with desire the opportunity to soar. Click on the video to see this incredible blind person in action. A transcript of the documentary subtitles is below in this post.
I’m now 100% blind, and I believe I’ll never stop surfing. What is surfing for me? Well, it’s my whole life. My life revolves around the tides, and everything around me is dedicated to surfing. Surfing in the dark, a great big story. My name is Altor Francesena. I’m a professional surfer and I’m also a surfing instructor. I’ve been surfing my entire life. I was born with genetic glaucoma. my whole life I’ve been battling blindness. I have been completely blind for four years. When I was surfing, i fell from the top of a wave. I fell wit my eye open, and I broke the eye. My whole life, I’ve been running away from becoming blind and in the end it happened doing what I love the most, surfing. The question everyone asks me is “Did I think I would be able to surf blind?”. Well in the beginning, if I’m honest, no. Until one day after leaving the hospital I was with a girl who was taking care of me, and I told here, I’m going to try and surf. I got in the water with goggles and I realised the sea was telling me a lot. I felt a wave, I turned around and I started to paddle. And I stood up, and I said, “I can do this”. And from then until now I haven’t stopped. I depend on my ears. My ears give me a lot of information about the size of the waves. it’s very infrequent that I misjudge the size of the waves from the sound that they make. I not only surf, I also teach. Before, I trained people in a way where every time I would see something wrong, I would pull them out and explain to them. Now that I can’t see, we do it another way. Sergio, I’m going to play the images for you, and you’re going to tell me what you’re seeing. We record everything on video and with the recordings I’m able to remove their errors. If each person does their part, the student can learn a lot and have very good technique. For me, teaching this way is easy. We’ve also organised a clinic for people in wheelchairs or who have other disabilities, so that little by little, more people will participate in the marvellous sport of surfing. Everyday, my life is a challenge, but when you stand up on a wave, you forget everything that’s bad. I want to teach everyone with a disability, that with dream and with desire, it is possible to do anything in life.