The inaugural International Surfing Association (ISA) World Adaptive Surfing Championship was held at La Jolla Shores, La Jolla, California, September 24-27. The event was presented by Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF); Hurley, Costa Mesa, California; Stance, San Clemente, California; and the City of San Diego.
Precompetition events on Thursday, September 24, included an opening ceremony at Balboa Park, San Diego, and an adaptive surfing clinic. Each participant was paired with an instructor to receive personalized lessons.
Competition began the following day. Adaptive surfers from 18 countries descended on the white sand shores to compete in four divisions: Stand division had 35 competitors, Upright with 12, Assist with 11, and Prone with 11. All surfers took part in two rounds, and those with top scores each day advanced in diminishing numbers so that during the final round only four surfers from each division competed. The gold medalists came from four continents.
The Upright final was the first of the four finals to take place, with Brazil’s Fellipe Lima scoring a heat total of 12.93 to earn him the title of the first ISA World Adaptive Surfing Champion. Following Lima were three U.S. athletes, Jeff Munson with silver, Chris Oberle with bronze, and Freddy Carrillo with copper.
The United States’ Jesse Billauer got an early lead in the Assist final that he never lost, earning gold. Taking silver was fan favorite, 10-year-old Davi Teixeira from Brazil; followed by Juan Martin De Posadas from Uruguay with bronze; and the only female medalist, Darian Haynes from Hawaii with copper.
Bruno Hansen from Denmark took gold in Prone. U.S.A. team captain Christiaan Bailey finished with silver, Spain’s Alvaro Bayona with bronze, and Ryan Baker from the United States with copper.
The Stand final wrapped up the event. Australia’s Mark “Mono” Stewart narrowly earned the gold medal with a heat total of 11.13, edging out South Africa’s Antony Smyth’s score of 10.66. Rounding out the heat were Brazil’s Alcino “Pirata” Neto with bronze and Hawaii’s Mike Coots with copper.
“Adaptive surfing history has been made in La Jolla,” said ISA President Fernando Aguerre. “I would like to congratulate the four athletes that received gold medals, but also all 69 competitors who took part in this historic competition. All of the athletes will return home as ambassadors of adaptive surfing. This is only the start of something much bigger and wider reaching that we will see grow and develop in the years to come.”