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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa
Caleb Swanepoel-1200-th

Fri, 1 December 2017

Mixed fortunes greeted Team SA as clean hollow surf put the surfers to the test at the 2017 Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships presented by Vissla and the City of San Diego.

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POCKET STYLE: AS-1 Saffa team member JP Veaudry had a great heat. Photo ISA / Grant

Competitive Adaptive Surfing was taken to new heights in the clean, long period 2-3' lines breaking on a shallow sandbar at La Jolla shores beach. South Africa’s JP Veaudry, the 2016 AS-1 Bronze Medalist made his intentions for Gold clear with solid surfing and an excellent range score. Veaudry earned the day’s second highest heat total with 15.33.

Last year's gold medallist in the division Anthony Smythe, team captain for South Africa, got one good wave that pushed him through. In the AS-2 division, Caleb Swanepoel got a second in his heat while Tyler Pike got a third. Fortunately, contestants get another chance if they come outside the first two, but must make the top two to go through after this.


ALL SMILES: Adaptive Team SA show the camera some typical Saffa gees. Photo Supplied

In the AS-4 (Prone) Danie Nel was edged into third place, but gets to surf again today. In AS-5 (Assist), Albert Rust also got a third. In the AS-1 division for women, Grace Anderson is still to surf. Nel, Pike and Rust will all be surfing their second heats later this evening ZA time.

No surfers were eliminated on the first day of competition in the ‘round robin’ style format. Each surfer in the open divisions will surf twice, where the top two waves from either of their first two heats will go towards their total score to advance onto the single elimination round 3.

Mark ‘Mono” Stewart, a back-to-back Gold Medalist from Team Australia spoke about the great conditions and camaraderie seen on the beach, saying how in the last three years adaptive surfing had "blossomed into this huge phenomenon around the world. It’s giving so many youth the opportunity to get back in the ocean. Being pioneers of that is a great feeling. It’s great to know that we are here on a grass roots level to build a platform for the future generations to potentially surf in the Paralympics."

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BEACH BREAKING: Albert Rust slides along the line of a glassy pearler. Photo ISA / Grant

Brazil’s Roberto Pino, a first-time competitor in the event, was the standout surfer for the defending World Champion Team Brazil. Pino combined radical maneuvers with a completed barrel ride to earn wave scores of 8.83 and 8.33 for a heat total of 17.16, the highest of the day. Pino left the beach overcome by tears of joy as he exited the water to cheers of the international community supporting him.

With the ISA’s recent recognition by the International Paralympic Committee, pushing for the inclusion of Para Surfing in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games has been a key priority of the International Federation.

International Paralympic Committee Vice President, Duane Kale, came to La Jolla to attend the event and experience the vibrant Adaptive Surfing movement first hand.

“The ISA extended an opportunity to me to come observe this wonderful event,” said Kale. “It’s part of a process of the ISA in showing their interest of becoming a Paralympic sport for 2024. This was a wonderful chance to see the event, see what it’s about, see the operational aspects, and meet all the people behind the sport.

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GOING FOR GOLD: Defending AS-1 champion Ant Smythe looks for a good score. Photo ISA

“My first impression of the event is the closeness of the athletes. You really get that sense of a community and a movement that is growing in its infancy. There is nothing like developing a sport when you have a group of athletes that are as passionate as the athletes of Para Surfing. They are achieving things that are challenging, but enjoyable, and showcasing just what Para athletes and sport can do.”

ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, added: “It was absolutely incredible to watch the world’s best Para surfers competing in excellent conditions. These athletes’ talent, competitive drive, and togetherness were on full display today. With more great waves on the forecast, this was just the first taste of what we are going to see this week.

“The high performance and vibrant energy radiating from the beach exemplify the qualities of Para Surfing that we think would make it a great fit in the Paralympic Games and we are ecstatic to be able to share that with the Paralympic Movement and the whole world.”

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SPEED LINE: Shark bite survivor Caleb Swanepoel takes the drop. Photo ISA / Grant

The schedule for Friday (Pacific Standard Time - add 10 for ZA):

7am-9:40am – 8 heats AS-1
9:40am-10:40am – 3 heats AS-5
10:40am-12:20pm – 5 heats AS-2
12:20pm-1:40pm – 4 heats AS-4
1:40pm-2:20pm – 2 heats AS-3
2:20pm-3:00pm – 2 heats Women AS-1

Watch live from November 29 to December 3 on www.isaworlds.com

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