The inaugural ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship Presented by Challenged Athletes Foundation, Hurley, Stance and the City of San Diego, culminated on Sunday at La Jolla Shores in grand fashion, crowning the first-ever ISA World Adaptive Surfing Champions.
Demonstrating the international profile of this ISA World Championship, the Gold Medalists from four continents were greeted by a crowd of thousands. Adaptive surfers from 18 countries cheered them on, showcasing the international support that has been evident throughout the competition.
The newly crowned Gold Medalists were Bruno Hansen (DEN) in Prone, Jesse Billauer (USA) in Assist, Mark “Mono” Stewart (AUS) in Stand and Fellipe Lima (BRA) in Upright.
Fellipe Lima, who made history as the first athlete to receive a Gold Medal, said:
“I couldn’t be happier than I am now. It’s amazing to see this ISA World Championship happen. It has always been my dream, not just to be a World Champion, but also to see the sport grow. This is just the start.”
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 athletes from the USA: Jeff Munson with Silver, Chris Oberle with Bronze and Freddy Carrillo with Copper.
USA’s Jesse Billauer got out to an early lead in the Assist Final that he never lost, earning Gold for the host country. Taking the 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.
Billauer emotionally shared words with ISA President Fernando Aguerre after his heat.
“After I got injured, competition was not something that I thought about, and now I am the ISA World Champion. It’s amazing to be a part of this and have all of the countries involved.”
Bruno Hansen from Denmark put on an impressive performance en route to taking the Gold Medal in Prone. USA Team Captain, Christiaan Bailey, finished with the Silver Medal, Spain’s Alvaro Bayona with Bronze and USA’s Ryan Baker with Copper.
Hansen explained, “I’ve been training hard for ten years, trying to get my mind in the right place. I lost my way completely and Surfing brought me back to where I am.”
The Stand Final wrapped up the event in dramatic fashion. 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.
The 52-year-old Stewart spoke about his accomplishment.
“It’s a dream come true. I think everyday I’ve had a tear in my eye seeing people who are so dedicated and love the ocean as much as I do.
“I’ve been waiting 35 years for this event, but I now know that the sky is the limit with Adaptive Surfing. The future is in the hands of all the young people you’ve seen here this week. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre spoke after the Closing Ceremony.
“This is an ISA World Championship that will be talked about for years to come. Adaptive Surfing history has been made in La Jolla. I would like to congratulate the four athletes that received Gold Medals, but also at 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.”