At this year’s conference held in Newquay the focus will be on ocean pollution, the Tokyo Olympics and sustainable surfing;
Surfing Medicine International is a passionate, global network of surfing health professionals. They envision that every surfer is an ambassador for global health and the ocean environment. As they are at the core of medical and scientific communities, the aim is to share their knowledge and educate coastal and surfing communities in preventing injuries, saving others and living healthy.
An annual conference is run every year with speakers and participants from all around the globe. This September the Surfing Medical International Conference will be hosted in Newquay. At this year’s conference the focus will be on ocean pollution, the Tokyo Olympics and sustainable surfing; with speakers such as Emily Currie, Hugo Tagholm from SAS, The Wave and members of the Japanese Surfing Team. We asked secretary Simon Morris more about the event.
What are the main challenges facing the health of our surfers and planet?
Surfing is becoming increasingly popular, with current estimates numbering 37 million surfers worldwide. Surfers may encounter several different types of health issues whilst riding both their local breaks and abroad: trauma to the head or extremities, drowning and hypothermia, UV damage to the skin and eyes, exostosis (surfer’s ear) from prolonged cold-water exposure, tropical infectious disease from travelling, or stings and bites from marine species to name but a few. We have also seen the recent rise in awareness regarding the impact of plastic waste on our oceans.
By sharing knowledge, expertise and clinical experience from our membership, representing all medical specialties and surf associated professionals, we aim to provide the surfer with information on how to stay healthy and safe in the water.
Simon, how did Surfing Medicine International come about?
Surfing Medicine International (SMI) was founded in 2011 as a non-profit, volunteer-based organisation in order to “Keep the Surfer Healthy and Safe” by connecting surfers, health professionals, lifeguards, sport and environmental scientists, surf coaches and athletes.
Since 2011, the SMI has run five conferences in Ireland, Portugal and France. It has also developed it’s own, unique and accredited qualification: the Advanced Surf Life-Support course (ASLS), which takes place annually in Portugal. The SMI has also developed a number of tools to help achieve its aim, such as the Surf First Aid app.
Ultimately, we want to ensure that there are defined, evidence-based standards within the specialty and the sport at large.
How will this be represented at the conference?
Over the course of the four days, the World Conference in Surfing Medicine (WCSM) will feature lectures and practical workshops from leaders in their field. The three main areas of focus for this year’s conference are:
- The Surfer & Their Extreme Environment
- The Wave to the Tokyo Olympics 2020
- Professionalizing Safety in Surfers
Speakers include: Dr Terry Farrell (Doctor on the WSL Big Wave Tour), Professor Mike Tipton (world expert in extreme medicine and hypothermia), Dr Anne Leonard (leader of the ‘Beach Bums’ study), Hugo Tagholm (founder of Surfers Against Sewage), Emily Currie (British Longboarding Olympic hopeful), Dr Takeshi Kojima (spinal surgeon and doctor to Japanese youth surfing team), Nick Houndsfield (behind The Wave Bristol) and many more.
We will also have representation from some amazing surfing organisations from Newquay and beyond: Surfing England, The Wave Project, Surfers Against Sewage, Northcore, Dry Robe, SWOX and Valeu-Shock.
The next conference is in Newquay, what can people expect on the day and what is the aim?
After 7 years of success in France, Portugal and Ireland, the SMI want to bring the WCSM to the heart if British Surfing – Newquay. We want to ensure that our message is heard by every surfer worldwide and feel that Newquay can be the perfect platform to promote our ethos.
On each day of the conference, we have created a programme filled with workshops from experts in their field; whether discussing medical principles, environmental factors or performance surfing. We want everyone to learn and become aware of the issues that surfers face on a daily basis… and most importantly what we can do about them!
We also host daily beach sessions where our experienced team teach surf rescue, basic first aid and resuscitation principles, as well as practical workshops such as management of surfing injuries.
By the end of the conference, we want every attendee to feel comfortable managing basic problems affecting surfers and feel that they can make a difference to their own health and the health of those around them.
Is it just for those in the medical profession or can anyone come along?
The conference, lectures and workshops are designed for every surfer. Every year we have a wide variety of attendees: professional to amateur surfers, surf coaches, lifeguards, doctors, nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists, osteopaths, students, environmental scientists, industry stakeholders… Every surfer gets affected by the same problems and we believe that all surfers have a duty to look after one another in the line-up.
We have created a number of ticket options so that the conference is accessible to all of those who wish to join us!