Champions crowned at 2024 Muscle Food English Para Surfing Open

The surfing community celebrates the champions at the 2024 Muscle Food English Para Surfing Open!

Para surfers from across the world met at The Wave in Bristol to compete in the 2024 MuscleFood English Para Surfing Open on 4-5 July. The event saw athletes from around the world competing, coming from as far as Israel and Mongolia. This was the 8th English Para Surfing Open and the 4th time it has been hosted at The Wave.

We were blown away to have over 60 volunteers and staff come together, all contributing towards the successful running of the contest. With a big focus on the development of the sport, the two days were packed with training for volunteers and running a roadshow stop for new surfers.

The contest featured 6 ISA Divisions and 4 Open divisions for surfers without classifications. At Surfing England, we have high aspirations for Team England Para and are excited about the talent within it. We aim to continue developing both current and new athletes. While Para Surfing did not make it into the 2028 LA Paralympics, the contest was a success in advancing the competitive development of our para-athletes. The athletes showed how they can light up the world stage.


Thursday morning launched with volunteer training led by our Adaptive Pathway Manager, Jack Pathing. Volunteers handled in-water safety, wave ‘pushers’ (assisting athletes onto waves), and land-based tasks such as transferring athletes from wheelchairs to surfboards. The Para Surfing Open depended on these volunteers for smooth water and land logistics.

Our head judges, Ester Spears and Kerry Powell, held a Q&A session for athletes, offering tips on scoring well in their heats.

On Thursday evening, Team England Para Manager Phil Williams hosted a fundraiser at The Wave with short films, a Team England athlete Q&A, and a prize draw. The event successfully raised over £500 to support our team’s participation in the ISA Worlds contest in California.


The contest kicked off on Thursday with strong gusting winds, but this did not deter our surfers from throwing down some huge scores on day one. The lake was firmly alive with a display of exceptional surfing, and array of manoeuvrers on the waves. The seasoned Team England para athletes put on a real show, showcasing to the Open and Roadshow surfers the phenomenal standards to make squad.

The event welcomed many surfers to the lake for the first time. Nerves were electric as the contest was on the advanced setting, but some of these athletes clearly are naturals and got to grips rapid. Standout competitor, James Price, surfing in the OPEN Prone division, scored a massive single wave score of 8.23!

The rain cleared in time for the contest to begin at 10am Friday morning. We witnessed some world-class scores being awarded throughout the day. Some standout performances include Team England Para team member Melissa Reid, scoring a 9.17 ride in her Friday heat in the ISA Visual Impairment division. Surfer Zoe Smith scored a massive 9-point ride in her ISA Stand 2 division. Mark Hagger, in the ISA Prone Division, was cheered on by the crowd as he was awarded another excellent score of 8.5.

Although the athletes are competing and of course want the winning titles, you can see how tightly knit this surfing community is. It was incredible to see some of our more experienced athletes getting into the water to coach other athletes. It was a true reflection of the bond these surfers have with one another, and not something you often witness in other professional sports.

Contest Commentator Sam Bleakley rounded up the contest perfectly “The performances have been through the roof. So many excellent range scores. So much fantastic wave riding. Big standouts have been the likes of Melissa Reid, Zoe Smith and Stephen Downes from Newquay, who blew us away with his control, his commitment and his style. But the bigger picture has been the Para surfing community with the way everyone has worked together to not only offer that positive force of surfing as therapy but also that platform for the athletic side of Para surfing. That is why we have so many medallists here in the UK community. We look forward to moving ahead with our amazing adaptive community.”


ISA PRONE 1 WOMEN’S – 1. Suzanne Edwards

ISA PRONE 1 MEN’S – 1. Harlum Lewis

ISA KNEEL MEN’S – 1. Isaac Heaher

ISA PRONE 2 MEN’S – 1. Mark Hagger   2. Afonso Faria

ISA PRONE 2 WOMEN’S – 1. Hannah Dines   2. Natasha Davies

ISA STAND 2 WOMEN’S – 1. Zoe Smith

ISA STAND 2 MEN’S – 1. Pegleg Bennett

ISA STAND 3 WOMEN’S – 1. Charlotte Banfield


ISA VI 2 MEN’S – 1. Alexander Shub   2. David Lewis   3. Matthew Thorne

OPEN STAND MEN – 1. Louis Sutton

OPEN VI MEN – 1. Finn Jones

OPEN KNEEL MEN’S – 1. Stephen Downes    2. Jimmy Simpson

OPEN KNEEL WOMEN’S – 1. Rheya Sarre

OPEN PRONE MEN’S – 1. James Price   2. Cliff Lee   3. Mark Bowra

OPEN PRONE WOMEN’S 1. Ayuna Berdidaeva   2. Justine Barker   3. Sophie Veron

Our Support and Gratitude for all involved – A Heartfelt Thank You

The success of the English Para Surfing Open is a testament to the dedication and passion of all participants and sponsors. A big thank you to those volunteers who gave up their time to help athletes in and out of the water! Thank you to The Wave Project and Surfability for providing some incredible volunteers and adaptive equipment.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Muscle Food for their unwavering support and sponsorship, enabling us to deliver a memorable contest for all.

We would like to say a big thank you to all involved. A huge thank you to all surfers, supporters, media team, judges and event team for being a part of this epic weekend. A big thank you also to our Contest Director, Pauly Jeffrey for ensuring the smooth running of the contest.

It was a phenomenal weekend for Para Surfing, and we cannot wait for next year!


Thank you to our fantastic headline sponsor MuscleFood, and to our amazing partners Caravan and Motorhome Club, korev Lager, The Wave, dryrobe, Decathlon, Clarke Willmott, Vospers Experience Freedom.

A huge thank you to The Wave: Bristol’s inland surf destination for allowing our contest to run at your incredible location.


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