Athletes continued to rip the waves of La Jolla Shores during semi-final rounds at the Stance ISA Adaptive World Championships
Through four days of competition the 2018 Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship is set to award the gold medals in La Jolla.
Twelve individuals and the Team World Champions will be crowned during an action-packed string of finals.
Team Brazil comes in as the two-time defending champion, currently sitting in second position heading into the final day. Team USA currently holds a lead in potential points and will look to earn their first-ever Team Gold in the event.
Team Chile, having earned the bronze medal in 2016 and the Copper in 2017, currently holds the bronze medal position and will look to move up in the medal rankings.
With twelve divisions to be contested, the team rankings are still wide open for the team that has a strong showing on the final day.
Team USA’s Sarah Bettencourt put on the best performance of the event thus far in the Women’s AS-4 Division. Bettencourt’s wave total of 9.27 and heat total of 17.27 were the top marks among all the competitors through the first four days of the world championship.
“That 9.27 felt so good,” said Bettencourt. “That was the first time that I was able to see the lip coming and carve up to hit it. It’s amazing that in competition was the first time I did that. This world champion has motivated me and got me excited again to surf. I’ve learned that no matter what language you speak or what disability you have, we all have the same love of the ocean and sport. The love and desire to grow the sport among all countries and genders is consistent among all of us.”
Brazil’s Jonathan Borba continued his impressive run throughout the event with a heat total of 14.17, the highest of the day in the open divisions. Borba will look to propel Team Brazil into the lead with a gold medal during the finals.
Hawaii’s Meira Duarte (AS-3) and Australia’s Samantha Bloom (AS-5) have both been guaranteed two medals for the final day of competition, having qualified for the open and women’s divisions finals.
The fourth day of competition kicked off in continued clean conditions at La Jolla Shores. The world’s best adaptive surfers took to the water with their sights set on qualifying for the final day of competition.
Among the defending world champions to qualify for a chance to repeat their titles on Sunday are Denmark’s Bruno Hansen and Japan’s Kazune Uchida. Hansen, the only adaptive surfer with three individual Gold Medals to his name, will look to add to his medal count in the AS-4 Division and Uchida, the first Japanese adaptive surfing World Champion, will look to build upon her historic performance from 2017 in the Women’s AS-1 Division.
On the final day of competition history will also be made as the first visually impaired women World Champion will be crowned. Canada’s Ling Pai, England’s Melisa Reid, Spain’s Carmen Garcia, and Portugal’s Marta Jordão Paço are set to dispute the medals.
Team France’s 2017 silver medalist Eric Dargent, a shark attack survivor from Reunion Island, advanced into the Open AS-1 Semifinals, however his run came to an end in the semis. Dargent spoke about what adaptive surfing has meant to him.
“France has never won a gold medal in this world championship, but we are looking for our first this year,” said Dargent. “After I was attacked by a shark, the first thing I asked my doctor was how soon I could get back to surfing, not how fast I could get back to walking. Keeping balance in my life with adaptive surfing is really important. I want to show the world that amputees are able to surf standing up.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“The beach was packed with fans and supporters today. The international adaptive surfing community was out in full force to cheer on the world’s best as they pushed on towards the medal rounds on Sunday.
We have arrived at the moment that we’ve been waiting for. The months of training, dedication, camaraderie and national pride will culminate tomorrow during the finals as dreams are made with gold medals.
With an increase in swell on the way, we can expect quite the show from these incredible athletes.”