The 2016 ISA Stance Adaptive Surfing World Championship ran from the 9th-11th December in La Jolla San Diego, California. A total of 77 Athletes from 21 Countries took part across 6 divisions that were based on Paralympic classifications. These were AS1 stand-Kneel, AS2 stand –Kneel, AS3 upright, AS4 Prone, AS 5 Assist and AS VI Visually Impaired. The event was the second world championships that has been held for adaptive surfing.
For the first time a team from Wales attended consisting of Benjamin Clifford as Team Manager, Toby Williams as Team Coach and Llywelyn Williams who competed in the AS2 Stand-Kneel division.
Competitors in the AS2 division would have two heats and their top two wave scores would go towards progression to the quarter final. The top two waves could come from either heat or a combination of the two.
Surfing is judged by a panel of judges who score waves on the following criteria. Commitment and degree of difficulty, Innovative and progressive manoeuvres, Combination of major manoeuvres, Variety of manoeuvres, Speed, power and flow.
The first round on Friday 9th saw small surf around 1-2ft making competition difficult for the athletes. Llyweln scored a 4.00 and a 3.57, unfortunately Llwelyn took off on a wave in front of another competitor which meant that he got an interference call resulting in his second score being halved. This meant his final heat total was 4.00 + 1.78 = 5.78.
The second round on Saturday 10th saw much better surf. Waves were 2-3ft and there was very light wind making the waves stay up for longer. Llywelyn relished the better conditions and won his heat scoring a 7.00 and a 5.67 for a combined total of 12.67 this gave him a higher heat total than defending world champion Mark Stuart. Llywelyn’s heat total was enough to see him through to the quarter finals.
The quarter final for AS2 was held later on the 10th and the surf conditions were still good although the wind had got stronger making the waves a little more uneven and the heat a little slower than round two. Llywelyn again won the heat scoring a 4.83 and a 3.73 for a combined total of 8.56, this meant he progressed to the semi finals.
The semi finals were held on Sunday the 11th and saw the surf still at 2-3ft but with stronger wind and a shorter wave period than Saturday. This meant the waves were coming in closer together. The semi final was intense with the lead changing throughout Llywelyn had the lead going into the final two minutes of the heat but was unlucky that his competitors each got a good wave in the dying moments of the heat. Llywelyn scored a 6.50 which was really strong but couldn’t find another good wave to back it up, his second score being a 3.83 for a combined score of 10.33.
This meant that Llwelyn finished 5th in the World and Wales with only one athlete finished 16th of 22 countries.
The Welsh team were disappointed not to make the final especially as Llwelyn had previously outscored the eventual winner Mark Stewart. A fifth place finish was great though and Llwleyn’s surfing was amazing throughout the contest. All the team were so proud to represent Wales at this amazing event. Llwelyn can’t wait for next year where he hopes to compete again and win his division.
Anyone interested in becoming an adaptive surfer or joining the Welsh Team should contact Benjamin Clifford via email Surfability.email@example.com