If you’ve been in Coronado for any length of time, you have probably seen Quinn Waitley buzzing through town on her electric powerchair. Most locals know her back story as one of the quadruplet Waitley sisters born to David and Heidi some 26 years ago. What many do not know is that Quinn is a highly decorated Adaptive Surfer, currently ranked sixth in the world and first in the USA having won first place for women in the prone-assist division at the U.S. National Championships in June. In fact, Quinn has been ranked the top-rated woman nationally in her classification for six consecutive years.
There are two important surf competitions coming to San Diego (Oceanside) in September. First will be the U.S. Open of adaptive surfing Sept. 9-12. This has become the third largest adaptive surfing event in the world. It was created by Charles Webb and what sets it apart from other surf contests is that it is focused completely on adaptive surfers, also known as para-surfers. Within adaptive surfing there are several classifications or divisions including stand, upright, prone, and prone assist. In the prone assist division, each surfer can use one “pusher” or person to launch the board into the wave at the beginning of a ride. There is also one or two “catchers” who ensure the safety of the rider and paddle the surfer back out to the break.
The following weekend will be the Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro which is the largest woman surfing competition in the world. This is the third year Quinn has been invited to compete in Super Girl and there will be 30 women joining the adaptive contests. Quinn loves competing, but it is the close-knit community of adaptive surfers which inspires her the most. Her favorite thing about surfing is being out of her chair, feeling stoked, pushing herself where most folks in her situation would never imagine that possibility. Quinn also has a secret weapon in that her dad David is her pusher during events. Their father-daughter bond works to her advantage as David knows precisely where Quinn needs to be to maximize her ride and Quinn trusts her father knows just how big a wave she can handle.
Quinn’s U.S. National team will also compete in the International Surfing Association (ISA) World competition in December. The site is moving from La Jolla to Pismo Beach this year in search of larger waves. The ISA is the world’s governing authority for surfing and was instrumental in getting surfing into the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The ISA advocates for adaptive or para-surfing to be a part of the Para-Olympics soon.
Quinn Waitley is also the founder of Team Quinn, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serve people with disabilities or disabling conditions and their families. Their goal is to help integrate and connect the adaptive athletes with the community through local events and service opportunities. Team Quinn hold 3 to 4 adaptive surfing events per year at Coronado Shores, La Jolla, and Oceanside. For people with disabling conditions just going to the beach can be a daunting task. By providing access to the beach and the option to surf, Team Quinn hope to create a shift in perspective as to what is accomplishable, experienced, and overcome. Find out more about this inspiring organization on their website: https://www.teamquinn.org/index.html.