Visually Impaired surfers steal the show, post highest scores on the third day of competition
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After three days of competition at the 2017 Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship presented by Vissla and the City of San Diego, the stage is set for a historic fourth and final day of the event to crown eleven individual Gold Medalists and the Team World Champion.
The visually impaired surfers shined and put on incredible performances in solid swell at La Jolla Shores, posting the highest wave scores of the day.
Australia’s Matt Formston and Spain’s Aitor Francesena both marked waves scores in the 9-point range, the first of the event. Despite their visual impairments, both surfers were able to sense the waves and perform maneuvers linking together long rides. Formston’s 15.83 heat total held up to be the highest of the day.
Francesena, the first-ever and reigning visually impaired World Champion, spoke about his excellent wave and his upcoming Finals appearance.
“My caddy told me that there was a good right coming and we weren’t sure if it would open up,” said Francesena. “I began to feel the wave and see that it was cooperating, so I am so happy that I got a 9.
“To be honest I am really nervous for the Final because I have been thinking a lot about repeating my Title and there are lots of other great visually impaired surfers. I have great respect for the other competitors. Anyone can beat anyone.”
Both Formston and Francesena will face off in the Final on Sunday against Brazil’s Figue Diel and Chile’s Javier Scott.
Notably, all six of the 2016 World Champions have advanced through to the Finals and will have a chance to repeat their Gold Medal performances of 2016. Denmark’s Bruno Hansen, Brazil’s Fellipe Lima and Davi Teixeira, Australia’s Mark ‘Mono’ Stewart, Spain’s Aitor Francesena, and South Africa’s Antony Smyth will attempt to grow their Gold Medal counts.
Smyth’s path wasn’t easy as he broke his board in his Semifinal heat in the shallow inside section, but he still managed to hold on and advance along with the standout Brazilian and first-time ISA competitor, Robert Pino.
The highly anticipated Women’s Divisions will take place on the finals day and crown the first women World Champions ever in Adaptive Surfing. The ISA has promoted gender equality in the sport that led to nearly three times more women competitors this year than in 2016, meriting separate divisions for the women competitors. Five women World Champions will take home Gold Medals on Sunday.
In the women heats of Saturday’s competition, Japan’s Kazune Uchida earned the highest women heat total for the second consecutive day with 12.34 and guaranteed herself a medal in tomorrow’s Women’s AS-1 Final.
Costa Rica’s Ismael Araya was unable to advance through the AS-2 Semifinal, however, he shared his perspective about his team’s participation here in La Jolla.
“Competing in this event is a dream come true,” said Araya. “It makes me want to cry because I get to see and share this experience with my team and other adaptive surfers from around the world.
“I am the pioneer of Adaptive Surfing in Costa Rica so I feel blessed to be able to give others hope. I hope others can get motivated to be part of the Adaptive Surfing movement by seeing us here.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre, said:
“We’ve arrived at the point that we’ve been waiting for. Three days of hard work, determination, camaraderie, and inspiration have led us to the final day where we are set to crown 11 World Champions, including the five first Women Adaptive Surfing World Champions.
“I have been blown away by the leaps of growth that I have seen the sport take this week both in the high-performance surfing and the organization of the sport from our National Federations around the world developing the sport.
“Tomorrow is going to be a can’t-miss moment for the sport and a day that surely will be remembered for years to come.”
The schedule for Sunday’s competition is as follows (Pacific Standard Time):
- 8:00am-8:25am – AS-VI Final
- 8:25am-8:50am – Women AS-4 Final
- 8:50am-9:15am – AS-4 Final
- 9:15am-9:40am – Women AS-5 Final
- 9:40am-10:05am – AS-5 Final
- 10:05am-10:30am – Women AS-3 Final
- 10:30am-10:55am – AS-3 Final
- 10:55am-11:20am – Women AS-2 Final
- 11:20am-11:45am – AS-2 Final
- 11:45am-12:10pm – Women AS-1
- 12:10pm-12:35pm – AS-1 Final
The schedule for the remainder of the competition is as follows:
- December 3: Competition 8:00am-12:35pm at La Jolla Shores beach
Watch the event live November 29 – December 3 on www.isaworlds.com.