The World’s Best Para Surfers Have Been Crowned - The 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championships Report
Gold medalists were crowned and records were broken at the 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championships (WSPC) in Huntington Beach and we were there making our own history.
The event served up some incredible moments, with multiple-time World Champions adding to their medal counts, and brand new World Champions claiming their world title glory. Not to mention the abundance of sunshine, perfect comp conditions, glassy waves, and a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere that celebrated the para-sports surfing community.
The 8th edition of the ISA WPSC provided 6 days of phenomenal surfing over 18 divisions, putting 184 registered athletes from 27 National teams to the test to claim their world title status.
The atmosphere on the beach was energetic from the first to the last day, with teams strongly cheering on their nation’s athletes as well as showing unwavering support for surfers in competing teams. It’s this inclusivity and warmth in the global surf community that sets this comp apart.
Building on our long-standing support of adaptive surfing is integral to us and we’re proud to have been an official sponsor as well as the official changing robe of this prestigious event.
It was a privilege to spend time with the para-sports surf community at the contest, where we were also launching our newest product, the dryrobe® Adapt. Inspired by our belief that everyone should be able to enjoy getting active outdoors, we’ve been working closely with para-surf athletes and wheelchair users to create a product that can easily be used to stay warm and dry pre/post and during outdoors adventures, and we were proud to finally share it with the athletes and spectators at the event.
Surprising swell, critical heats, and immense comradery
The event kicked off on Sunday 5th November with the competing nations taking to the streets in an epic parade of nations for the open ceremony, finishing next to the iconic Huntington Pier - the famous landmark that would be the backdrop of the contest throughout the week.
On Monday, it was straight into the action starting with some of the men’s first heats. What began as a misty morning turned into a glorious day of surfing, showcasing the world-renowned surfing hotspot in all its glory.
We were stoked to catch up with the newly awarded gold medal winner of the women’s SUP Surf event at the Pan American Games and dryrobe® Ambassador Izzi Gomez who came down to absorb the exciting action.
By Tuesday, Huntington Beach reminded everyone that it’s not always beautiful sunshine and dreamy surf. Overcast skies and charged-up waves welcomed the first women’s heats. The change in conditions didn’t deter a friendly seal though, who temporarily entered the comp area to say hello.
A bigger swell on Wednesday took Day 3 of the competition by surprise with some hefty sets throughout the day.
Thursday was an intense and critical day for Team England, with many athletes hungry to get to the next round.
It was a strong day for the women’s divisions, with English para surfer Natasha Davies having a great winning heat for the Women's Prone 2 putting her in the semi-finals along with the awesome English surfer Hannah Dines. Suzanne Edwards took on some epic waves, making it to the Qualifying Round 2 in the Women’s Prone 1.
Marting Pollock also made it to the semi-final of the Men’s Kneel on Friday after putting in an epic performance in the other qualifying rounds.
The team combatted some challenging conditions with Dave Jeffery competing in the Men's Stand 1, Spike Kane in the Men's Sit and Andy Guy and Mark Hagger in the Men's Prone 2.
We’re proud partners of Surfing England and we were delighted to be supporting Team England Para at this event.
Finals Day 1 - Friday
By Friday morning, the surf had switched up again with calmer waves and a friendlier contest playground in time for the first day of the finals.
The comp jumped straight into the men’s Stand 2 Semi-Final. Spectators on the beach were watching intensely as Kenjiro Ito from Japan snagged the last wave during the countdown in the final seconds of the heat.
It was a momentous day for Team England Para, with Charlotte Banfield tearing it up and winning her first world championship title in the Women’s Stand 3 final in the last heat of the day. The athlete has made four previous ISA WPSC finals, earning two silver medals, a bronze, and a copper, making 2023 Charlotte’s year.
It was an emotional watch, with the team cheering her on from the beach.
Charlotte shared some touching words with us after the final:
"I think there’s something out there for everyone. There’s something that makes you wake up in the morning with a smile. There’s something that makes every day enjoyable, and for me that’s surfing. I think once you find your thing, that will be it. It will keep you going every day. And there’s nothing holding you back from chasing your dreams because I’ve just chased my dreams and they’ve come true."
Brazil had some huge wins on Friday afternoon with Roberto Pino achieving the first perfect 20-point heat total in ISA para surfing history. Pino got barreled and executed a critical two-turn combo respectively, catapulting him into Saturday’s Men’s Stand 1 Final.
Felipe Kizu Lima equaled the current record of six gold medals in ISA WPSC history, also held by Bruno Hansen from Denmark, achieving world champ status in the Men’s Sit. Brazilian Dijackson Passos dos Santos topped off the day for his team, getting gold in the Men’s Stand 3.
In the Women’s Sit final, Alana Nichols from Team USA battled it out to claim the world title for a third time, adding to her incredible collection of gold ISA WPSC medals and 3 Paralympic gold medals.
Finals Day 2 - Saturday
Saturday was a huge day, with fourteen final heats and fourteen World Champions eagerly waiting to battle it out to be crowned.
The deceptively sunny morning made for a fresh start to the day with many athletes keeping warm in their dryrobes to keep the chill at bay, attaining their focus and energy for the life-changing day ahead.
In the Women’s VI2 final, Aleli Medina defended her world champ status claiming gold, with silver medalist Melissa Reid from Team England coming in second after an intense comp.
Brazil added to its incredible list of 2023 ISA WSPC achievements, with Davi Teixeira, a lover of sit surfing showing us how it’s done as the the Men’s Prone 2 World Champ.
Australia had some fantastic results with a double win in the men’s and women’s Prone 1 by athletes Joel Taylor and Emma Dieters.
The Men’s Kneel was an anticipated final, with crowd favourite Llywelyn ‘Sponge Williams competing alongside some incredible athletes. Sponge won every one of his heats in the lead-up, and his winning streak didn’t stop in the final as he defended his world title.
It was a big celebration for Canada’s Victoria Feige who won her fifth gold medal owning the world title position in the Women’s Kneel and extending her own record.
Ismaël Guilliorit won Norway’s first-ever ISA medal in the Men’s Stand 2, shredding his way to silver on the podium.
Zoe Smith from Team England put in an incredible performance claiming the silver medal in the Women’s Stand 2, with Laurie Phipps bringing it home for France in first place.
Roberto Pino shredded his way to victory in an impressive win for the second time as world champion in the Men’s Stand 1.
The sea woke up for the Women’s Stand 1 with some big sets coming through to close the comp. Japan had two athletes in the final with Nagisa Ikegami earning the final World Champion title of the day.
The closing ceremony was a beautiful celebration of the top para athletes in the world as well as revealing the team winners.
France topped the podium with their first Para Surfing Team World Championship title, and England also claimed their first ever ISA team medal, the copper, thanks to Charlotte Banfield’s epic win. The host team, USA came in 2nd and Brazil achieved third place.
A massive congratulations to all the athletes, coaches, support crew, and teams. Witnessing firsthand the phenomenal support, respect, and friendships both within teams and between competing nations is inspiring. We’re so proud to be involved in an inclusive event that brings the best of the surfing community together and promotes great sportsmanship between athletes.
Check out the full comp results below.
Gold – France
Silver – USA
Bronze – Brazil
Copper – England
Men’s Vision Impairment 2
Gold – Aaron Paulk (HAW)
Silver – Roy Calderon (CRC)
Bronze – Pierrot Gagliano (FRA)
Copper – Jack Jackson (AUS)
Women’s Vision Impairment 2
Gold – Aleli Medina (PUR)
Silver – Melissa Reid (ENG)
Bronze – Lou Mechiche (FRA)
Copper – Ling Pai (CAN)
Men’s Vision Impairment 1
Gold – Kirk Watson (AUS)
Silver – Thomas Da Silva (FRA)
Bronze – Elias Ricardo Diel (BRA)
Copper – Ben Neumann (GER)
Women’s Vision Impairment 1
Gold – Marta Paço (POR)
Silver – Valentine Moskoteoc (FRA)
Bronze – Carmen Lopez (ESP)
Copper – Juliette Mas (FRA)
Men’s Prone 2
Gold – Davi Teixeira (BRA)
Silver – Jose Martinez (USA)
Bronze – Tomoki Fujiwara (JPN)
Copper – Ander Goenaga (ESP)
Women’s Prone 2
Gold – Sarah Almagro (ESP)
Silver – Jocelyn Neumueller (AUS)
Bronze – Celine Roulliard (FRA)
Copper – Ann Yoshida (HAW)
Men’s Prone 1
Gold – Joel Taylor (AUS)
Silver – Christian ‘Otter’ Bailey (USA)
Bronze – Casey Proud (HAW)
Copper – Kai Colless (AUS)
Women’s Prone 1
Gold – Emma Dieters (AUS)
Silver – Kayla Woputz (HAW)
Bronze – Tracy McKay (RSA)
Copper – Paloma Onate (ESP)
Gold – Llywelyn ‘Sponge Williams (WAL)
Silver – Ibon Oregi (ESP)
Bronze – Reddog Wheatley (AUS)
Copper – Henrique Saraiva (BRA)
Gold – Victoria Feige (CAN)
Silver – Vera Quaresma (BRA)
Bronze – Audrey Pascual (ESP)
Copper – Emmanuelle Blanchet (FRA)
Men’s Stand 2
Gold – Rafael Lueders (BRA)
Silver – Ismaël Guilliorit (NOR)
Bronze – Jean Paul Veaudry (RSA)
Copper – Kenjiro Ito (JPN)
Women’s Stand 2
Gold – Laurie Phipps (FRA)
Silver – Zoe Smith (ENG)
Bronze – Malu Mendes (FRA)
Copper – Kirsty Taylor (WAL)
Men’s Stand 1
Gold – Roberto Pino (BRA)
Silver – Shingo Kato (JPN)
Bronze – Camilo Abdula (POR)
Copper – Maxime Clarkin (FRA)
Women’s Stand 1
Gold – Nagisa Ikegami (JPN)
Silver – Liv Stone (USA)
Bronze – Catalina Castro (CHI)
Copper – Chikako Takao (JPN)
Check out our latest product, inspired and tested by the para-sports surf community, the dryobe® Adapt.