Fierce competition, rivalry, and show-stopping surfing were on show at the 2020 Korev Lager English Adaptive Surfing Open.

A moment in history for English surfing.

It was the first event at The Wave Bristol since they opened their doors a year ago. Surfing England was truly honoured to organise and deliver this event. A stellar turnout of 21 of the world’s best adaptive surfers gathered for this iconic event.

And what a day it was – the reflections of what has been achieved are beginning to sink in for all involved. The weekend was set to pound everyone with relentless wind and rain – should we have been at the beach, we would have had to cancel – but The Wave delivered the goods.

This is the incredible thing about the venue – it has to be next level extreme for the wavemakers to stop the waves rolling through. Instead, the wind graced athletes with offshore conditions, yep offshore at our favourite inland surfing destination, and we all got the dry robes out to stay warm, and we were away.

A new format, a new venue, we were excited. Heats started rolling from 9 am; surfers showcasing their skills on the lefts all morning and then shredding the rights in the afternoon.The pressure was on.

Surfers had six waves per division, with their highest wave score on the left and right accumulating to give their final position on the leader board. The format was set to maximize the surf time for competitors, and their adrenaline and energy saw them giving it they’re all for the full day.

Every surfer pushed their upper limits. Natasha Davies took on the advanced wave setting for the first time, and what a take-off she handled. Her surfing was slick.

Joining from Wales was Katie Richard’s first surf at The Wave and straight into a competition – totally brave, she joined the line-up and took the challenge on.

Travelling from the USA, Michael Pingatore had been putting some training hours in ahead of the contest and brought some skill to the table. He placed third overall in the sitting/kneeling, behind wave local Martin Pollock, and Wales’ Sponge Williams, who took the win in both the sitting/kneeling and also the men’s open.

Sponge also claimed the overall highest scoring wave total and earnt himself more surfs at The Wave and an accommodation package for when their huts open next year. Close behind in the men’s open was Cornish legend Pegleg Bennett, who claimed the champion position in the standing division.

Melissa Reid, a visually impaired world champion, always brings an impressive performance. She claimed the title in the women’s open and visually impaired divisions and second place in the standing.

Charlotte Banfield, also a renowned surfer and athlete in the adaptive scene, kept Melissa on her toes with her signature rail grabs and placed second in the women’s open, and fourth in the standing division, Louis Sutton nudging her off the third place.

Another Welsh one to watch, Ethan Jolosa, at just 15, put in a great performance. He is one to have eyes on for the future.

Ethan and Bruno Hansen have a fantastic friendship and show rivalry in the water, Bruno coming out on top claiming the champion position in the prone division, with Italian Massimiliano Mattei, just behind in second, Ethan chasing the tail coming in third.

The event is not only a place for competition, but it is also a place where dreams are realized, and life-changing moments take place.

David Lewis, who has a visual impairment, described how the event had given him “hope and optimism for the future.” Incredible.

Young surfer Jeremia, aged 7, who has not yet joined the contest environment but loves surfing – his mum got in touch just after the event.

“He was so excited to meet Martin! (Martin Pollock, known as @1limbsurfer). In a week where some kids at school have told him he was ‘scary’ because he was born with missing limbs.. he met his hero.. he saw him surf (Jeremia also loves to surf), and he vowed to be just like Martin when he grows up.. it was one of the highlights of my life”.

This is the strength of adaptive surfing; this is the ethos of Surfing England, every person should have an opportunity to surf and a place in the line-up.

Nick Hounsfield, the founder of The Wave and chairman at Surfing England, was truly happy with the outcome.

“This was a dream being realized, and I am unbelievably proud of everyone involved. We’ve been working together at The Wave and Surfing England for years now to support the English Adaptive Team and grow the adaptive support for the future,” said Hounsfield.

“The event was the culmination of our combined efforts, and the success will be the springboard for future events, further funding, and a drive towards the Paralympic future.”

Thu 8th Oct, 2020 @ 3:30 pm

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