Physically challenged surfers from around the world to compete in Adaptive Surf championship
LA JOLLA (KUSI) —Challenged athletes from all over the world are in San Diego Wednesday to compete in a very special surf competition.
The world adaptive surfing Championship is back in La Jolla Shores.
109 Athletes with different physical challenges are here from 26 countries. And it all kicks off with a surf Clinic.
“I was a surfer before and now I’m here learning how to surf again in the Adaptive way,” said surf clinic participant Sara Bettencourt, who is getting tips on how to stand on a surfboard.
“In the Marine Corps training to fly helicopters I started to lose feeling in my extremities and so I was forced to medically retire from the Marine Corps,” Bettencourt said.
She’s not competing in the World Adaptive Surfing Competition this year but might in the future.
Her new found friend and mentor Victoria Feige is though.
“Last year I came and I was blown away by the level of surf,” Feige said.
“For the first time we’re going to have a separate division for women. Last year they competed together with the men. We pushed and we tripled the amount of participation from last year for women,” said Robert Fasulo of the International Surfing Association.
Adaptive surfing is becoming so popular that the International Surfing Association is spearheading the effort to get para-surfing to be an official sport in the Paralympics.
Back this year is Aitor Francesena from Spain. He’s the reigning champ in his category and he is completely blind.
Francesena said that he had to learn how to surf in an entirely different way, based on feeling the waves.
These athletes will tell you the feeling of having faced the darkest moments in their lives, but these moments are washed away when they hit the water.