New Names Rise and Familiar Faces Shine at 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship

November 7th, 2023

Buzzer-beater lands defending champion Aleli Medina (PUR) on top of the leaderboard

2021 World Champion Jose Martinez (USA) refines his craft, delivers epic performance

Norway’s Ismaël Guilliorit hopes he’s not too old to make a comeback

Huntington Beach, California – November 7, 2023

Fun, two-to-three foot surf poured into Surf City USA for day two of the 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship (WPSC). Multiple excellent performances shone through as Round 1 was completed in four men’s classifications (Stand 2 & 3, Sit, Visual Impairment 2), along with two women’s (Prone 2, Visual Impairment 2). Round 2 of Men’s Prone 2 also took place.

Quinn Waitley, Team USA. Photo: Sean Evans

The 2023 WPSC is utilizing a round robin format for each of the classifications. A surfer’s highest two waves out of their first two heats will register in a leaderboard. From there, the top competitors in each division will progress to the next round.

Newer names like Andy Guy (ENG), Ander Goenaga (ESP), Douglas Hendrix (RSA), and Pierrot Gagliano (FRA) each found breakthrough performances, while familiar faces including Jean Paul Veaudry (RSA), Rafael Lueders (BRA), and Felipe Kizu Lima (BRA) returned to competition in great form.

2017 silver medalist Quinn Waitley (USA) was over the moon to win her Prone 2 classification heat, the first women’s match-up of the event. The veteran competitor rode out of a solid drop to earn the victory.

“I still can’t believe I won that heat,” Waitley said. “I normally don’t win the first heat, so this is new for me. I haven’t podiumed at this event since 2017 so I’m just going to focus on having fun and listening to country music.”

Highlights in Prone 2 also came from 2021 gold and silver medalists Jocelyn Neumueller (AUS) and Sarah Almagro (ESP), along with two-time gold medalist Ann Yoshida (HAW).

Alelí Medina, Team Puerto Rico. Photo: Sean Evans

Buzzer-beater lands defending champion Aleli Medina (PUR) on top of the leaderboard

Three-time gold medalist Melissa Reid (ENG) and 2022 gold medalist Aleli Medina (PUR) met up in Women’s Visual Impairment 2, Round 1 with newcomer Hailey Houston (USA). In tough afternoon conditions, the two former champions traded similar scores, with Reid taking the lead in the final moments, right before Medina reclaimed it with a big forehand re-entry that earned the 14-year-old a buzzer-beating 8.00.

“I was kind of nervous heading into the heat because I’ve seen Melissa training really hard,” Medina said. “[At the end of the heat] I was kind of stressed out because I hadn’t gotten a good wave. I’m still out of breath because I was paddling so hard. After the wave I was paddling back out and my dad was like, ‘No, the heat ended!’ and I was like ‘Oh, ok, did they count my wave?’ But I’m super-stoked that they counted it. It felt super-good.”

Ismaël Guilliorit, Team Norway. Photo: Jersson Barboza

2021 World Champion Jose Martinez (USA) refines his craft, delivers top performance

Topping the Men’s Prone 2 leaderboard was Jose Martinez (USA), who put on an incredible performance. After a long wait for his first wave, the 2021 World Champion capitalized masterfully with a large bottom turn drawn straight into a down carve earning him an 8.67. But the best was yet to come. On his second effort, the US Army veteran faded into a long right wall, before banking hard off the lip and riding out clean down the massive face. That effort provided him with a 9.67 single wave score and an 18.34 heat total, the highest numbers of the event so far.

“Last minute I decided to switch my fins and it worked out perfectly for us,” Martinez said. “[Performance] has a lot to do with not just technique, but adjustment in the water with your equipment and yourself. So it’s all full factor that plays into this role and I’m happy that I’m able to understand it more every single time.”

Norway’s Ismaël Guilliorit hopes he’s not too old to make a comeback

Proud Norwegian Ismaël Guilliorit’s presence was notable in the first three editions of the WPSC, but since last appearing in 2017 the viking helmet clad charger has been missed. However, the 45-year-old wants the para surfing community to know that he’s been present in spirit and, now that he’s back, he is enjoying every minute of his time in Huntington Beach and ready to win some heats.

“Many people think I wasn’t here for six years, but I was following and I was waiting my time,” Guilliorit said. “I was crossing my fingers to be not too old to do my comeback. I’m very happy to see all of the people, the level and the good energy. It’s a pleasure to see old friends, and put on my helmet with horns. For sure in the next heat I will get better waves. Now the compete begin.”

Competition will continue tomorrow at Southside Huntington Beach Pier at 7:00am PST.

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