The 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship (WPSC) is set to gather the world’s best Para Surfing athletes in Huntington Beach, California on November 5 – 11.
Here are the 10 things that you need to know about the upcoming competition.
1. Record Participation
184 registered athletes, representing 27 national teams, will gather to compete for the coveted Team Gold medals, surpassing the previous record in 2022 which is more than double the amount of participants in the inaugural 2015 event.
The current back-to-back Team World Champions, Team USA, will once again seek to defend their title on home ground.
2. Push for Paralympic Inclusion
With Surfing as the official Sport of the state of California and the strong surf culture, Para Surfing presents a unique value proposition to the Paralympic Program.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board has confirmed that Para Surfing has demonstrated the competitive viability and integrity of the sport, as well as the strategic benefits to the Paralympic Games.
LA28 will lead a process of evaluation of the impact of including Para Surfing to the program. The process is expected to conclude and the final programme confirmed before the end of this year.
Para Surfing’s priority mission to be included at the LA 2028 Paralympic Games follows confirmation last year that Shortboard Surfing will be part of the Initial Sport Program at the LA Olympic Games. Shortboard Surfing was first added to the Olympic sports programme for Tokyo 2020 and will again feature at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, reinforcing the sport’s long-term goal to be part of the Olympic and Paralympic Movement.
3. World Champions Return, Looking to Set More Records
A huge list of former World Champions will be returning to defend their titles. 16 men and 12 women who have won world titles will be present in Huntington Beach, including multiple gold medalists Mark ‘Mono’ Stewart (AUS), Felipe Kizu Lima (BRA) and Matt Formston (AUS).
The winningest athlete in Women’s para surfing, Victoria Feige (CAN), will be looking to continue her streak and become the first woman to earn five gold medals, while Liv Stone (USA) and Melissa Reid (ENG) will be seeking to win their fourth.
4. Women’s Para Surfing Continues to Grow
A record 62 women will compete, representing over one-third of the total competitors. Gender equity is a key priority for the ISA and the massive growth in women’s participation in recent years is a testament to the ongoing efforts to create more opportunities for women in all surfing disciplines.
5. Para Surfing Classification
The ISA has officially classified 410 para surfers, with over 60 more being classified at the 2022 World Para Surfing Championship.
The goal of classification in Para Surfing is to accurately allocate the athlete into their best surf class to ensure a high level of competition and a more leveled playing field, minimizing the impact of impairment on the sport performance.
Athletes are grouped into one of 9 classifications depending on their particular physical conditions. Each classification will crown men’s and women’s World Champions.
● Stand 1
● Stand 2
● Stand 3
● Prone 1
● Prone 2
● Vision Impairment 1
● Vision Impairment 2
Full details for each classification can be found here.
6. Where to Watch
7. Continuing Development of the Sport
The ISA will provide both a Para Surfing Symposium and a Para Surfing Clinic hosted by AmpSurf to push the development of Para Surfing forward.
The ISA Para Surfing Symposium will provide key information regarding Para Surfing classification, equipment, and global development to push the growth of the sport. The symposium is open to all participants in the WPSC and streamed online for ISA Member Nations to tune in.
The Para Surfing Clinic hosted by AmpSurf will take place on Sunday, November 5th from 8am-12pm at Huntington Beach Pier. The purpose of the clinic is to provide an opportunity for new athletes with physical challenges to experience the healing power and joy of surfing, receiving instruction from top athletes and instructors.
8. Social Media
The ISA will be posting live updates, photos and videos from the competition on social media. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Don’t forget to use the official hashtag #ISAworlds.
9. The ISA and Huntington Beach
The WPSC will be held in ‘Surf City USA’ for the very first time. It will be the eighth major ISA Event held in ‘Surf City USA’ however, after the city hosted four editions of the ISA World Surfing Games, in 1984, 1996, 2006, and 2022, as well as the ISA World Juniors in 2005, 2018 and 2019.
As Presenting Sponsor, Visit Huntington Beach is thrilled to be able to showcase the world’s best para surfers, while also helping further the ISA’s mission to see para surfing included in the 2028 Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.
10. Presenting Sponsors
The ISA is stoked to be partnering with Visit Huntington Beach (VHB) and the Foundation for Global Sport Development (GSD), as the Presenting Sponsors
As the official Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for Huntington Beach, California, VHB promotes Huntington Beach’s Surf City USA brand experience as the preferred quintessential California beach destination leading to increased visitor spending and enhanced quality of life for residents.
GSD has been working with the ISA since 2019 by providing grants to support the development of para surfing, including classification, coaching instruction and equipment.
National Teams will parade carrying their flags to the “Sands of the World” ceremony.
Date: Sunday Nov 5th
Place: Pier Plaza, at the end of Main St.
Time: 1:30pm PST
Competition runs from Nov 6th to 11th.