Shaping his mate's future

17:00, Jun 13 2014
Mike Brown
'EXPERIMENT': Surfboard maker Paul Barron has come up with a design to help paraplegic man Mike Brown tackle waves.

Like most keen surfers, Mike Brown checks the swell religiously.

When it is really big, the 36-year-old has to accept defeat.

But not for much longer.

Mike Brown
Mike Brown on his modified wave ski at Sumner Beach in Christchurch.

Brown broke his back and lost the use of his legs in a skateboarding accident in Australia two years ago.

Nine months after his accident, the St Martins man hit the waves in Sumner on a custom-made waveski.

He can't tackle waves on it as high as he once surfed but Kiwi surfboard shaper Paul Barron is determined to change that.


Barron is hand-shaping Brown an "insane" board, which will allow him to do "everything that a stand up surfer could do – lying down".

And he is doing it for free.

"Mike makes you realise how amazing it is to be able to walk down the beach and catch a wave without any hassle at all. We take it for granted," Barron said.

Brown said, all going well, he should be able to chuck the board in his car and hit up Magnet Bay or Kaikoura with his friends.

"I still look at the surf forecast and get excited when there's a three-metre swell [hitting] the coast, but I can't go at the moment," he said.

"I'm less likely to get smashed on a board like this."

Brown's new board is designed to flex down the middle while he is turning using his arms and torso.

Barron said it was a "total experiment" and he hoped it worked.

"It's different than any other board I have seen on the planet.

"You have got to think outside the box," he said.

Brown saw the board for the first time last week and said he was "blown away" with it.

Surfing was about "being out there with your mates", exercise and fresh air, he said.

"All the dust from your life just seems to disappear.

"I have not surfed Magnet since my accident. This is my ticket."

Brown's blog Mike's Big Break is at

The Press