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Wed, 31 January 2018

Getting into a wetsuit when you're physically challenged has to be one of the toughest obstacles to get out there into the briny blue. Spike finds out about a unique design contest.


DESIGN BY NATURE: Megan Clark came back from overseas to find her way. Photo Supplied

Megan Clark, 30, who counts her bestie at school as former WSL CT professional Rosie Hodge, is a hockey player but her ideas are set to change surfer's lives, starting with adaptive surfers. Her passion is design in the wake of her post-grad studies at Design Time | School of Secondary Design in Observatory Cape Town, which came after her degree.

Banking her passion for the future, she did what many young South Africans do as part of life's journey. They head overseas for adventure and the kind of work they can do before coming back to their careers. After five years as a stewardess on a super yacht, she returned.

Clark found herself at the first iXperience Adaptive Surfing workshop last year, presented by Surf Emporium and Adaptive Surfing South Africa, as a volunteer. After working with the development surfers on the day, Clark saw just how hard it was to wriggle into and out of a wetsuit. Clark thought to herself, hang on, surely there's a better way. She drove away brimming with ideas, and had a 'light bulb' moment about a way to combine her passion for design and this stirring to help people.

"Another part of the puzzle was an impactful trip I had made to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam where I saw the Design for Refugees Exhibition."

create4-wetsuit-design-contestWith the learnings of that exhibition at the back of her mind, something was brewing, but her ideas "were just puzzle pieces that I couldn't quite connect. I worried whether I could do it. I worried about fitting in. I was not a surfer of any kind, never mind an adaptive surfer."

But when she came back to the next workshop in August, she was empowered with the realisation that there is "such a need for purpose driven design" and it resulted in her "putting my hand up to start something cool that helps people". So she came up with the idea of running a contest to find the perfect design for an adaptive wetsuit via a competition.

Never mind zipless wetsuits that you have to literally pour yourself intoAll of us know the wetsuit frommel even with back zip or front zip designs let alone zipless wetsuits you have to literally pour yourself into. People who are a little heavy, or have a bad shoulder, find themselves asking for help. Spare a thought for someone missing limbs, or who is confined to a wheelchair. Clark approached Antony Smyth, team captain of Adaptive Surfing South Africa, who jumped at the concept.

The Create4 Adaptive Wetsuit Design Competition, presented by ReefSA and Triggerfish Animation, was born. Judged by an experienced bunch of experts, the winning design will be manufactured by Reef SA and the winning designer also scoops R5,000. Running until the 15th March, it is open to anyone, anywhere in the world.

The wetsuit will be given to an adaptive surfer in need with prizes for the 2nd and 3rd in the contets. Entrants can choose one of the following categories: amputee without a prosthetic, amputee with a prosthetic, paraplegic and quadriplegic.


0 #1 Rosy HodgeRosy 2018-02-01 19:55
Super proud and inspired by what Megan is doing and excited to see what Create4 and the entries come up with??
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