God, is there anything as wonderful on this Earth as getting barrelled? As an average surfer, I sometimes tell friends that if getting tubed is the only trick I ever learn in this pursuit – one that equally frustrates and fulfills so many us – then I am complete. As of now, I’m happy not being able to throw airs, or that my turns are painfully mediocre. I’m content knowing I’ve learned how to simply stick my butt in a wall (however small it may be) and ride out on my backhand after a lip has folded over the top of me in uniform fashion, providing joyous visions that fill my head for days. In surfing, it’s all I need.
If you haven’t seen this clip yet (it’s not exactly new), that joy I’m talking about, that pure feel of ocean, and human, and board, is so wonderfully evident. Adaptive surfer Fabrizio Passetti getting to his feet at lovely-looking Padang Padang in impressive fashion, despite missing half of his right leg, is everything surfing should be.
Because everything about Fabrizio’s surfing journey has been a challenge: first-off, the Italian learned to surf in a wave-starved country at a time when the internet wasn’t as relevant (he studied videos he ordered). Then, on the eve of competing in his second national championship, he was in a motorcycle accident with a friend, losing his leg at 18.
But the sport never left him (does it ever really leave any of us?). Finding prosthetics that allowed him to play in the sea was his biggest challenge. His early replacements caused serious infections – one almost forced doctors to further amputate his leg – or they fell apart. Finally, in just the last few years, the 36-year-old has been able to find prosthetics that matched his aggression (as you can see above) and he continues to work on improving them for amputees.
After literally finding his footing again, Fabrizio doesn’t want to stop competing. The man has two goals he’s after at the moment: he wants to surf in next year’s Padang Cup and at the ISA Championships in California a few weeks from now. And of course, he wants to continue to get barrelled. “For many years I lost the ability to surf and it’s my whole life,” he told us. “Now that I’ve found it, I don’t want to lose it. (I want to) continue to inspire and help a new generation with improving the mechanics of prosthetics.”
You can follow Fabrizio here.