Nine of England’s best Adaptive Surfers have returned home after making the journey to the Californian Coast to represent their country at the 2021 AmpSurf ISA World Para Surfing Championships, the highest-level contest for para/adaptive surfing. The Team charged hard and placed an incredible 7th place in the World, an epic success for the team and everyone who supported at this Event.
Melissa Reid retained her World Champion Title and proudly took home Gold. Charlotte Banfield placed Copper, as did Hannah Dines, on her first ever time competing at the World Championships.
The World Para Surfing Championships were formally known as World Adaptive Surfing Championships, but the name has changed due to the ISA’s ambition to see para surfing included in the Paralympics, as surfing has demonstrated this year at Tokyo. Surfing England back this charge and have longstanding commitment to adaptive surfing, having run a contest every year since 2017, the most recent two events taking place at The Wave, Bristol.
Phil Williams led the charge out in California as Team Manager, his experience of around 30 years imperative to the success, alongside support from the Team, Surfing England, The Wave, and experienced coaches such as Andy Joyce.
We caught up with Phil to hear more about how the contest unfolded,
“Each of our athletes did incredibly well which meant by the end of the five days of competition the English team ranked 7th out of 24 teams one of our highest (if not highest) positions to date and including three medal winners.
The weather in Pismo during the week was generally dry but, in the mornings, pretty cold (4oC) and apart from one more stormy day the surf was very contestable in the 2-to-4-foot clean range perfect for the competition.
Melissa Reid in the visually impaired category took her 3rd Gold Medal, in a really strong set of performances with Isle of Wight’s Matt Harwood acting as a guide, some brilliant waves surfed in some really good offshore conditions for the finals.
In a very strongly contested prone assist division we had two female athletes, Natasha Davies competing again in the games and very narrowly missed out on the final, and Hannah Dines in her first-ever games just squeezed into that spot and came fourth overall (copper metal) with the assistance of her pusher and catcher Matt Harwood and Newquay’s Mike Young.
Dorset’s Zoe Smith, had a fantastic inaugural world surfing games in the stand division, just missing out on the final but with brilliant performance and she only started surfing in the summer! The futures bright.
The final member of the women’s team was experienced surfer Charlotte Banfield who once again made the final and did her country proud with a copper medal.
In the men’s division (Wave ski) unfortunately head of stoke Spike Kane badly injured himself in a competition at Huntingdon Pier just the week before, but that wasn’t going to stop him putting on a rash vest, being wheeled down to the beach, touching the water, and therefore gaining valuable points for the team, and that highlights the spirit and attitude of the para surfing community.
David Lewis in his first world games surfed really well in the visually impaired category with local guide Rodney, who joined the team to help out for free from Pismo Surf Academy, a big thank you to him.
In the men’s standing Pegleg Bennett an experienced campaigner and also assistant coach on this trip surfed really well to get to the semi-finals but just fell short to 3 other strong athletes to miss out on the finals. Some great waves caught, in what turned out to be a very high-scoring affair.
The final member of the England team was Cornwall’s Martin Pollock once again experienced in world surfing games, and just missing out on the final this year in the Kneel Division.
For me personally at these games I learnt so much which hopefully we can build into the plans for the future as the para–Surfing England team grows and grows not only in the coaching areas, but also in all the other topics which add up to make a team really really strong.”
A huge thank you to the support team which consisted of Andy Joyce (coach), Nick and Luca Hounsfield, Matt Harwood, Seren Dixon, Toby Mai Smith, Mike and Lyndsey Young and Tanya Banfield, a huge team effort which will only get stronger.
About Adaptive Surfing in England:
Surfing England have been delivering an English Adaptive Surfing Open since 2017, the first three Events taking place on Cornish beaches, the last two taking place at The Wave, Bristol. Team England Adaptive have been competing at the ISA World Championships since the inauguration, and the Team continued to grow year on year.
Adaptive/Para Surfing is a key development area for Surfing England, we want to see more growth and opportunities for Adaptive Surfing. This year we commissioned a report into the current provision of adaptive surfing in England, and to identify how we can further open up development. You can read the report here.
To show your support, you can join Surfing England for just £25/year.
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