ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“Seeing new talents challenging these established champions is both exciting and gratifying. This shows that the sport of para surfing continues to grow and develop around the world. I’m so happy to see the stoke on the faces of these athletes, young and old. Their commitment and determination is super strong and just reminds us that anything is possible in life! Seeing these emotions and performances, I have no doubt that Para Surfing would add enormous value to the LA 2028 Paralympic Games”.
The highest heat total of the day, an impressive 16.40, went to two-time ISA World Champion Mark “Mono” Stewart from Australia in Men’s Kneel. Combined with total domination in Women’s Prone 2 from Sam Bloom and Joyce Neumueller, team Australia, officially named The Irukandjis, are proving themselves a force to be reckoned with as they look to win their first Team World Championship.
Stiff competition from Team Brazil might stifle Australia’s chances, however. Sitting atop the rankings in seven of the 16 divisions offering gold medals, the powerhouse South American nation is looking strong to reclaim the title they won in both 2016 and 2017.
The full field of 134 surfers was rounded out as each division saw its first heats in the lineup. Eliminations also began as finalists were decided in Men’s Prone 2 and both Women’s Prone classifications.
Firing up the women’s field, Portugal’s Marta Paço sets the standard for visually impaired surfers
After winning bronze in 2018, Marta Paço of Portugal has returned for her second ISA World Para Surfing Championship and this time she’s going for gold.
Taking off on a left headed straight for the pier, the visually impaired surfer placed her board in the perfect position to glide through multiple critical sections. The reward for her commitment was the highest single wave score of the day for the women, an 8.50.
“I started surfing four years ago and from the first time I stood up on a surfboard I realized that surfing is what I want to do,” Marta shared. “Since that day in 2017, the sport has improved my life in many ways; physically, mentally, and socially. I can’t imagine my life without surfing.”