It is possible to paddleboard with a functional limitation, and this summer Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) enthusiasts from Montreal and Quebec have every intention of proving it.
The Quebec Project
Four years ago, Geneviève Hallé bought an SUP board for her spouse’s 40th birthday. The Quebec couple share the same passion for gliding sports, and SUP was gaining in popularity. Even after the snowboarding accident that left her paraplegic, Geneviève, a great gliding sports enthusiast, devised a way to board with other fans of this sport.
“I started by putting a small folding camp chair on the board, then replaced it with a kayak seat. I also used kayak paddles,” she explains.
Once on the water, the graphic designer loved the feeling of leaving her wheelchair on the shore and taking part in an activity alongside everyone else.
“Getting out of the chair is always fun, and being with a group of people, going at the same speed as everyone else, it’s even better,” she insists.
A few months ago, Geneviève spoke about her approach with other SUP enthusiasts, kinesiologists Pascale Martineau and Marie-Philippe Levesque, and occupational therapist Mireille Descarreaux.
The four gliders decided to introduce adapted paddleboard to several people with a functional limitation. So, they launched a project in which they initiated a dozen people in pool tests during the winter.
The project is spearheaded by Adaptavie and Waves SUP and Taiga provided the boards to facilitate the start-up.
“Eventually, we want to go out on a lake and even create an adapted paddleboard club,” says Martineau.
The Montreal Festival
255 kilometres from Quebec City, two enthusiasts offer free initiation activities to adapted SUP for the MTL SUP FEST in Montreal.
“The ultimate goal is to allow anyone, regardless of their functional limitation, to participate in this sport at the same time and on the same body of water as everyone else, in line with the principle of universal accessibility,” says Jenn Pechberty, a member of the MTL SUP FEST organizing committee.
Since last year’s festival, two AlterGo colleagues Jenn Pechberty and François Girouard have been inviting participants to take a seat on boards equipped with wheelchairs and floats. Participants learn to paddle on their own or receive assistance from an attendant as needed.
The methods are based on those of the Adaptive Sports Foundation, the organization who supplied the boards. Organizers are looking for more boards for their initiation activity.
So, while adapted SUP is practised sitting almost flat on a board in Quebec City, it is practised sitting in a wheelchair fixed to a modified board in Montreal.
According to their advocates, the two approaches complement each other well. The Montreal concept allows a person who cannot paddle to be accompanied by a standing paddler. The Quebec City concept offers those who can paddle the possibility of using accessories that are readily available. “It also makes it easier to get back on the board in case you capsize,” adds Geneviève.
“We have met Jenn and François and look forward to continue sharing ideas with them,” says Pascale.
It will be possible to experience first hand the two approaches on August 11 and 12 during the MTL SUP FEST, which takes place at Parc des Rapides in LaSalle. Registration and information are available at https://www.mtlsupfest.com/activite-sup.
To learn more about the adapted SUP paddleboard project in Quebec City, go to https://www.facebook.com/Paddleboard-SUP-adapté-1021219068026423/.