Wed, 9 October 2019

The world's first adaptive surfing big wave contest poignantly follows the recent collapse of the WSL Big Wave Tour, with South African champ Ant Smyth cracking an invite, writes Spike.


BIG STEP UP: Anthony Smyth is nervous but feels confident if he prepares properly Photo ISA

Smyth is a two-time world adaptive champion who recently won the AS-1 Men's division at US Open Adaptive Surfing Championships, which vindicated his result in Bali six weeks ago, when he fell off the podium to a very strong contingent of adaptive surfers. If you know Ant Smyth, you'll know he hates losing.

He returns to SA, but compatriot Danie Nel, who recently got a silver in the prone division in Bali, is in Japan about to undergo a right blasting by Typhoon Hagibis at the Japanese Adaptive Surfing Champs this weekend. The super typhoon has a 'pinhole eye' and the hurricane warning centre is waxing lyrical about the potential for catastrophic damage as it hits central Japan bearing a central pressure of 935mb and winds gusting to 200/km/h.

Smyth joins the top adaptive surfers in the world in preparing for the big wave event. The invitees include Tommy TheFourth, Mark "Mono" Stewart, Pegleg Bennett, Christiaan "Otter" Bailey and Bruno Hansen, the South African prone surfer who enters events under the banner of Denmark these days.


TWO GOLD MEDALS: Ant Smyth celebrates in the water after winning his last gold. Photo ISA

The event is at what one might say is a slightly more benign big wave spot - Nelscott Reef in Oregan, USA - but looking at the photos, it's still a bloody big wave.

"I am terrified," Smyth said. "I am not a big wave surfer. I have surfed some big waves. It will be a big challenge to prepare mentally and, obviously, physically. I have mixed emotions. I am excited, but scared! It's a great opportunity to show the world that adaptive surfers can handle all conditions.

The idea is to try and eliminate my fear by thorough preparationSmyth said he was taking advice from as many people as possible. "I have spoken to Matt Bromley, Ross Lindsay, Frank Solomon, and James Taylor, who have all given me advice. John McCarthy has helped with the mental preparation and the breathing. The idea is to try and eliminate my fear by thorough preparation. By the time it runs, I will be ready. Looking foward to it!"

He added that Cape Town surfers were fortunate in their access to a variety of reef breaks and types and sizes of waves. "It's great that I have access to a community that is willing to support. We have such a deep and rich wealth of big wave riders and spots, and I am really lucky to have access to their experience and advice."


OREGON GRUNT: Nelscott Reef might seem a bit more benign, but beware. Photo Red Bull / Parkin

Tommy The Fourth
Antony Smyth
Mark-Mono Stewart
Robson Gasperi
Fellipe Kizu Lima
Jeff Munson
Bruno Hansen - Never Give In
Pegleg Bennett
Alcino Pirata
Meira Va'a
Alana Nichols
Christiaan Otter Bailey

A post by USA Surfing said "Eight adaptive surfers from around the world (two per ISA divisions AS1-AS4) will be selected. There is no entry fee, room and food are paid for and also, in a yet another world first, surfers in the adaptive division will be earning equal prize money right along side the male and female professionals of the contest!"

Check out www.nelscottsurf.com

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