Saturday September 26th 10am-3pm

Challenged Athletes Foundation

9591 Waples Street, San Diego, CA 92121


  • Display incredible achievements and developments in Adaptive Surfing around the globe and discuss opportunities, needs, and best practices.
  • Empower National Federations and others to create successful Adaptive Surfing Programs.


  • 10:00– 10:30 Opening Introduction and Presentations:
    • International Surfing Association vision for Adaptive Surfing Development and welcome from ISA President, Fernando Aguerre
    • Challenged Athletes Foundation overview and grant application presentation from CAF Senior Programs Manager, Travis Ricks
  • 10:30-11:15pm Athlete Panel moderated by Bob Babbit
    • Highlight Adaptive Surfers from across the globe:
      • Alana Nichols (USA)
      • Mike Coots (Hawaii)
      • Dries Millard (South Africa)
      • Pirata (Brazil)
      • Ismael Araya (Costa Rica)
  • 11:15-12:00 Adaptive Surfing Organization Showcase
    • Highlight Adaptive Surfing Organizations from across the globe:
      • Jesse Billauer (LRO)
      • Cara Short (AccesSurf)
      • Betty (NMCSD)
      • Luana Nobre (Adapt Surf -Brazil)
  • 12:00-12:45 Lunch Break
  • 12:45-1:00 – Mark Marble (CTRS, ISA Adaptive Surfing Advisory Board) Introduction of the benefits of Adaptive Surfing, variety of disabilities and need for a clear pathway/development
  • 1:00-1:30 Equipment Panel – Shapers and Surfers moderated by Beau Hodge
    • Conversation between Adaptive Surfers and their Shapers about the development of Adaptive Surfing Equipment
      • Rich Julian & Steve Bahne
      • Christiaan Bailey & Eric Rausch
  • 1:30-1:45 Presentation about Paralympic Classification
    • Sylvana Mestre – Play & Train, Paralympic Committee
  • 1:45-2:00 Presentation French Adaptive Surfing Program
    • Serge Lougarot, Jean-Marc Saint-Geours – Association Nationale Handi Surf France
  • 2:00-2:45 Development Pathway Panel Discussion moderated by moderated by Jon Richards (ISA Adaptive Surfing Advisory Board).
    • Discussion about Adaptive Surfing Programs and Development for National Federations to include: contests, best practices, qualification, classifications, etc.
      • AccesSurf with Hawaii Surfing Association
      • Marcus Thompson – (Adaptive Surfing New Zealand)
      • Lorenço Chaves D’Almeida – (FESURF)
  • 2:45- 3:00 Closing and send off from ISA President Fernando Aguerre
  • 3:00- 4:00pm Workshop and Networking to discuss and work towards tools/pathway. Feedback Forms will be available

Speaker Bios:

Athlete Panel:

Alana Nichols (USA)


Alana Nichols is a world-class athlete with a passion for challenging herself and others. From a young age, her passion for sports and adventure has driven her and no matter what obstacle life throws her way, she takes a challenge head on. After suffering a spinal cord injury at age 17 while attempting a back flip on her snowboard, Alana quickly transitioned to adaptive sports. She is the first female American woman to win gold medals at both Summer (Wheelchair Basketball) and Winter (Alpine Ski Racing) Olympic/Paralympic Games. Currently training for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Paralympic Games, Alana will be taking on a new athletic challenge in Sprint Kayaking and will continue to inspire and attract fans around the world.



Mike Coots (Hawaii)


“Mike Coots is a adaptive surfer, photographer, shark attack survivor and shark conservationist. He lost his leg to a Tiger Shark when he was 18, and now surfs with a prosthetic. Out of the water for a few months, he found a new love, photography. It has become his passion and career. In Mike’s spare time he advocates for the protection of sharks, and enjoys offering peer support to other amputees. ”





Alcino “Pirata” Neto (Brazil)


Brazilian surfer, Pirata, embodies the spirit of the ISA Mission perfectly. Pirata is not only an inspiration for people with disabilities, but for the whole surfing community. Alcino Neto, more widely known as Pirata (Pirate), was born in Guaruja, Brazil, July 6, 1969. He has been surfing since he was 8 years old. During his childhood and adolescence, he took part in regional surfing championships. At age 16 he suffered a serious motorcycle accident, being trampled by a drunk driver. Because of the lack of assistance and injuries suffered, he had his left leg amputated. The barriers that appeared after the accident were, little by little, overcome with his determination and strength of will to surf again.




Dries Millard (South Africa )


“I was a contracted ruby player since I was 16 years old, and just as I made it on the national schools team in my final high school year, I had a car accident the left me paralyzed, T8 complete. Shortly after my accident I went back to the water and slowly made my way back surfing, as it was my means of escape even before my accident. I became the first South African ISA qualified instructor with a disability in 2011 and worked with Surfing South Africa to host the first ever adaptive surf event in South africa. Since then we have helped close to 500 disabled people to surf. My personal goals in surfing is to become the first paraplegic to surf Dungeons and surf big waves. For the sport development I plan to create a platform in SA where disabled people can compete on a provincial level. I spread disability awareness among schools and raise money to host more adaptive surf events working in my non-profit organization, Extreme Abilities. With the world adaptive surf champs, I finally have a platform to really grow the sport and I look forward to work with all the other like-minded Adaptive Surfers, learn from them and share what I’ve learned working with Adaptive Surfers from South Africa.”


Ismael Araya (Costa Rica)


“Hello My Name Is Ismael Araya, born in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica in Puerto Viejo, Limon, I am 37 years old, and I have been blessed with 3 children. Surfing has been something very positive throughout my life. I started my career as a surfer in Playa Negra Puerto Viejo at the age of 10 years. I entered the national competition circuit, winning several events, but never winning championships (this one will be my first!). I have worked 17 years working as an instructor certified by the ISA for level 1 and 2. I am also a certified Lifeguard and ISA Certified Judge. Today I have my own surf school called Ola Surf School.”




Organization Panel:

Cara Short – AccesSurf (Hawaii)

CaraHeadshot copy

Cara began 7 years ago as volunteer with AccesSurf Hawaii. Over the years her love of the ocean and passion for surfing found the perfect home with AccesSurf. In 2012 she transitioned to become the Program Coordinator and in 2014 she accepted the honor of becoming the Executive Director. AccesSurf was established in 2006 to provide free life changing programs to anyone with any disability to access the beach and ocean activities. In addition to their monthly programs and quarterly adaptive surf and swim clinics, AccesSurf annually hosts an international Adaptive Surf Competition during Duke’s OceanFest in Waikiki, Hawaii’



Betty Michalewicz-Kragh (NMCSD)


Betty Michalewicz-Kragh is an Exercise Physiologist at the Naval Medical Center, San Diego (NMCSD).   Betty earned her Be.D at Wingate Institute, Israel, and her Masters in Exercise Physiology at SDSU. In 2008, Betty went surfing with one of her soldiers –a Hawaiian surfer, who lost an arm and a leg in an EOD explosion in Iraq. That was the beginning of the NMCSD surf Therapy Program.

NMCSD Surf Therapy program is conducted at Del Mar, under the watchful eye of Del Mar Life Guards. The NMCSD Surf Therapy program rehabs NMCSD wounded, injured, and ill service members who suffers from a variety of medical conditions. The surf therapy program goal is to give service members the tools to be able to utilize surfing and ocean healing properties safely and independently to better their lives.  As of mid-2015, over 1000 service members have benefited from this program.


Jesse Billauer – Life Rolls On Foundation (USA)

LRO Badge Logo

“Founded by quadriplegic surfer Jesse Billauer, Life Rolls On is dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury. Believing that adaptive surfing and skating could inspire infinite possibilities beyond paralysis, Life Rolls On began as a splash into the unknown on September 11, 2001; achieved 501c3 nonprofit status in 2002; and now touches the lives of hundreds of thousands every year.”




Luana Nobre – AdaptSurf (Brazil)


Luana Nobre, Graduated in Physical Education, co-founder of ADAPTSURF, a non-profit association that promotes the social inclusion of people with disabilities, Program Coordinator since 2007, with thousands of adaptive surfing lessons given.






Equipment Panel:

Christiaan Bailey


Christiaan was a professional skateboarder and surfer alternating his home between Santa Cruz, California and serving as a surf safari guide in Central America and west Africa.  A skateboard crash while shooting a video would paralyze Christiaan from the waist down and put his lifestyle in question. Questions are made to be answered and Christiaan was a firm “yes” when it came to returning to not only the water but also the skate park.  With the help of all his former sponsors, Christiaan remained able to continue surfing on tour, becoming not only the first paralyzed World Surfing Association National Champion, but also the first paralyzed person to surf “Mavericks” in Half Moon Bay, California.




Development Pathway Panel:

Marcus Thompson – Adaptive Surfing New Zealand


Marcus Thompson is the founder of Adaptive Surfing New Zealand Incorporated.  This is a non-profit National Body that is set to develop and establish the pathways and provide the requisite support in making adaptive surfing a sustainable lifestyle and competitive activity for New Zealanders.   HIs previous experience in the disability sector as an International Athlete and administrator for Wheelchair Basketball is a formative influence for this work.?Marcus is a respected Secondary Teacher of Design Technology and Art.  He works within the context of a supportive family where his 4 children are a central part of his surfing crew.





Mark Marble – CTRS, AccesSurf Founder

Mark Marble is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist for more than 25 years, and currently serves as the Military Adaptive Sports Program Coordinator, assisting Wounded Warriors with conditioning and recovery. In 2006, Mark founded AccesSurf Hawaii to offer adaptive activities in the ocean to people with any type of disability.  Since its inception, the organization has empowered thousands of local residents and visitors of all ages along with wounded veterans to discover their level of abilities in surfing, paddling and swimming.



Jean-Marc Saint Geours and Jacques Lajuncomme – Association Nationale Handi Surf France

The Association Nationale Handi Surf France is recognized by the French Surfing Federation to develop Adaptive Surfing throughout France. They aim to facilitate social inclusion of handicapped people and facilitate attaining a level of autonomy close to that of an able-bodied person through:

  • Encouraging accessibility to Surfing
  • Promoting values of Adaptive Surfing
  • Promoting Health through sport
  • Contributing to the professionalization of instructors in surf clubs through training of technical staff to accomodate handicapped people.


Sylvana Mestre – Play & Train, International Paralympic Committee (Spain)


Sylvana Mestre related to the world of sport from the cradle, being the sports of sliding, skiing and surfing, her passion.From 1995 this passion moved onto the sports for persons with a disability. Since then she has been Technical Director of the Spanish Paralympic Team, the Chair of Alpine Skiing in the International Paralympic Committee and the Co-Founder and CEO of the Spanish NGO Play and Train. In her work she has been an advocate for accesibility in the sports infrastructures, helping the ski resort of La Molina with accesible changes that took them to win the IAKS Awards.