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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Mon, 4 December 2017

A silver medal by defending world champ in the AS-1 division Ant Smyth helped push Team SA into 6th spot at the 2017 Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship, writes Spike.

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SILVER LINING: Ant Smyth, Adi Klang, Kenjuro Ito (JPN), Roberto Pino (BRA). Photo ISA / Grant

The Capetonian, who snapped his magic board the day before, struggled to find high scoring rides yesterday. With the minutes ticking down, he needed a 7.17 to overtake eventual gold medallist Adi Klang, who earned Israel its first ISA gold medal.

The event, which is presented by Vissla and the City of San Diego, was won by Team Brazil for the second consecutive year - led by a Gold Medal for Alcino 'Pirata' Neto in the AS-2 Division. Australia were very close, falling behind by 498 points, for their silver medal, while Team USA finished with Bronze and Team Chile with Copper.

"This Gold Medal is not only for me, but for everyone who participated this week. Never in my life did I think this event would become a reality and grow so much, let alone win the Gold Medal," said Neto on the beach after the AS-2 final.

If only South African Bruno Hansen, who continued his streak of dominance in the AS-4 Division to get his third consecutive Gold Medal for Denmark, was in Team SA! We would surely have a medal, if not gold. The above video, Devocean, is the story of the man they affectionately call Bru Han. And, we almost had another surprise boost towards a medal. Fans watching the live stream were excited to see - surfing in white with 22 minutes to go in the AS-1 Women's final - our very own Grace Anderson in first place, with the best wave of the heat up to that point of 1.50. However, to groans of disappointment, it was an error by the organisers. Grace's named dropped off and was replaced by C. Bancroft of England.

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BRAZILIAN WAVE: Alcino 'Pirata' Neto celebrates his AS-2 gold medal. Photo ISA / Evans

The fourth and final day at La Jolla Shores beach in California had some historic moments such as the crowning of 11 world champions, Adi Klang of course earning the first ISA gold for Israel, and the first Women Adaptive Surfing World Champions being crowned.

Adi Klang - at the tender age of 50 - was an emotional competitor from the water, when he claimed every move he made, to the beach, where he said: "It's an unbelievable feeling. My original goal was to earn a medal, and I realized when I qualified for the Final that my goal was accomplished, so I thought "Why not go for the Gold?" I gave a fight till the end and ended up winning the Gold. I am 50 years old, so being on this podium has made me feel great. This has given me confidence and made me realize that I can still compete with young surfers."

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RISING SUN: Japan's Kazune Uchida (AS-1) writes her name in the books. Photo ISA / Evans

"I don't know how my life turned out this way, but I think the timing couldn't be more fortunate for me to win the first-ever waveski division," said Alana Nichols. "I am in awe of how far we've come and I am so proud of the women that were out there today. It takes a lot of courage to paddle out on a waveski. I hope the women adaptive surfing movement grows exponentially from here. Getting women divisions in the World Championship is a huge first step and next hopefully we get into the Paralympics. After that, we will have a foundation to work from to spread the love.

Entering the competition, Denmark's Bruno Hansen was one of three two-time defending World Champions along with Brazil's Fellipe Lima and Australia's Mark 'Mono' Stewart. Hansen emerged victorious through a hard-fought AS-4 Final and continued his streak of dominance in Adaptive Surfing.

"It hasn't hit home yet," said Bruno Hansen. "I haven't landed yet. Once the Gold Medal is around my neck it will be a bit more real. It was an amazing event with so many more competitors and so many more people. We all come together once a year and we are all friends on land, but there is a fierce rivalry in the water. These last few years we were just trying to find our place in the sport, but now I think we know where we stand and the competition truly starts between us all."

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UPPING THE ANTE: Anthony Smyth couldn't find the waves he was looking for. Photo WSL / Grant

After the end of competition, the Closing Ceremony took place with ISA President Fernando Aguerre and Stance Co-Founder and President, John Wilson, presenting the medals.

As ISA President Fernando Aguerre told the crowd: "Some of you will get medals, some of you will not, but remember all of you are champions. Don't forget it. Remember what you accomplished this week and be proud that you are part of the Adaptive Surfing movement."

Detailed results at www.isaworlds.com

Results: 1 Brazil, 2 Australia, 3 USA, 4 Chile, 5 Hawaii, 6 South Africa, 7 Costa Rica, 8 France, 9 Japan, 10 Italy

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