Former World Champions Deliver Stellar Performances at 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship

November 6th, 2023

2020 World Champion Roberto Pino (BRA) determined to reclaim gold medal in 2023

Rivalry continues for Llywelyn ‘Sponge’ Williams (WAL) and Mark ‘Mono’ Stewart (AUS)

Saudi Arabia’s first WPSC competitor, Mohanad Al-Malki, is up for the challenge

Huntington Beach, California – November 6, 2023

Incredible conditions on the Southside of Huntington Beach’s iconic Pier set the stage for the 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship (WPSC) to kick off. Three-to-four foot peaks provided an ideal canvas for the world’s best para surfers to showcase their surfing.

After early morning fog temporarily put the contest on hold, a full day of action took place with Round 1 of Men’s Kneel, Stand 1, Prone 1, and Prone 2 completed.

Jose Martinez, Team USA. Photo: Jersson Barboza

2020 Stand 2 World Champion Roberto Pino (BRA) took the highest honors of the day, now competing in Stand 1. A 9.00 for a speedy two-turn combo, combined with a 7.83, earned Pino the highest single wave score and heat total (16.83) of the day. After leaving the 2022 WPSC with the silver medal, he is determined that this is the year he backs up his 2020 gold medal.

“I started out a little nervous, but I knew that I would be able to get the scores,” Pino said. “Last year I lost for myself. I made mistakes, but we learn so much more from our mistakes. I’m here in 2023 focused and I’m going to win the gold for sure.”

Former World Champions Jose Martinez (USA), Jesse Billauer (USA) Casey Proud (HAW), and Davi Teixeira (BRA) also lit up the lineup, with big numbers providing progression in their respective classifications.

Mark 'Mono' Stewart, Team Australia. Photo: Sean Evans

Rivalry continues for Llywelyn ‘Sponge’ Williams (WAL) and Mark ‘Mono’ Stewart (AUS)

One of the most exciting heats of the day featured two more former World Champions, as the long-standing Kneel rivalry between 2022 gold medalist Llywelyn ‘Sponge’ Williams (WAL) and three-time gold medalist Mark ‘Mono’ Stewart (AUS) was furthered. Williams collected a massive 15.33 heat total, advancing ahead of Stewart in second. The pair settled straight back into the dynamic that saw them go one and two in the 2022 final, when the 28-year-old Welshman took his first gold medal over the Australian.

“I know it was the first heat but every time I’m against Mono, he probably feels the same, it’s a final,” Williams said. “But everyone else in the division is improving as well. There’s a lot of competition this year, so it’s going to be a tough one, but if the waves stay like this it’s going to be fun.”

Team Saudi Arabia. Photo: Pablo Franco

Saudi Arabia’s first WPSC competitor, Mohanad Al-Malki, is up for the challenge

Mohanad Al-Malki (KSA) is no stranger to extreme sports, but the 23-year-old from Riyadh’s newest passion, surfing, is proving to be a challenge. It’s one that Saudi Arabia’s first WPSC competitor is finding rewarding however.

“I’m new in this sport,” Almaki said. “I started surfing 7 months ago. It’s a really good sport, and a challenging sport, but I’m really enjoying it. I first surfed in Sri Lanka and after the first time I said to myself, ‘Am I really going to surf or not?’ I drank a lot of water. Now I’m still learning, but improving is making me happy.”

Competition will continue tomorrow at Southside Huntington Beach Pier at 7:00am PST with Men’s Stand 2.

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