Shawn Alladio: the foremost expert in jet ski safety and rescue

Shawn Alladio is the foremost expert in jet ski safety and rescue. Despite not living under the media radar, she has saved lives of the best big wave surfers in the world.


She is one of the most influential people in big wave surfing. Her name is Shawn Alladio. She has been teaching how to save fearless wave riders' lives, since 1989.

Alladio is a woman in a male-dominated environment. Big surf. In 1979, she bought her first Kawasaki jet ski and within years she had established the K38 Way of Training, a lifesaving method involving personal water crafts (PWC).

K38 designs courses in swiftwater rescue, flood, open water, and surf for recreational and occupational lifesavers, while setting the standards with innovative and effective techniques.

In 1998, K38 and Shawn Alladio rescued Brazilian big wave surfer Carlos Burle, two times during the Todos Big Wave Team Challenge. One year later, the experienced waterwoman behind K38 was appointed Water Safety Director, for the International Surfing Association (ISA).

The foremost authority for Rescue Water Craft (RWC) training survived, alongside Jonathan Cahill, a set of eleven 90-foot plus waves at Mavericks, on the 21st November, 2001.

The truth is Alladio has been saving lives in the most deadly big wave surf spots. Dungeons, Shark Park, Todos Santos, Mavericks, Teahupoo, Nelscott Reef, you name it.

"When I set up to recover an athlete with their surfboard, I have to select the best timeline in relationship to the athlete position and when they come up to the surface", Alladio writes.

"This varies depending upon the type of fail and underwater submersion they are experiencing. If the next wave is too close to the center mark in the trough, I have to pull out for safety or the wave will catch me".

"Sometimes they surface early and the recovery is positive, other times the environmental factors prevent their recovery. This also depends upon how deep near the pit they are located and the amount of aerated water", she adds.

Despite not living under the spotlight, tow-in and big wave surfing owe her a lot. Shawn Alladio has received numerous boating safety awards, in more than two decades of experience.

Alladio has supported the idea of having non-government sanctioned jet ski teams, at Mavericks, outside the period of high surf warning issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lives could be saved. At Half Moon Bay, and in many other dangerous surf spots.

The K38 Water Safety brand is now operating in USA, Japan, Australia, Cyprus, Italia, Micronesia, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, UK and Ireland with the same safety procedures. The company's motto says it all. "The Life You Save May Be Your Own".