South African Team captain, Antony Smyth of Hout Bay in Cape Town, was the standout on Day one of the 2015 ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships, which got under way on Friday at La Jolla in California.
Smyth scored 16.77 out of a possible 20 in his first round heat and had his team mates and the large contingent of South African supporters at the event whooping with delight.
The South African team captain, who has paralysis in his right arm, will go on to represent his country in the Finals on Sunday.
On Thursday,after an emotional gathering of the volunteers on the beach at the contest site, the 69 surfers from 18 countries took part in an inspirational Parade of Nations Ceremony and Pouring of the Sands, an ISA tradition that sees athletes mixing sand from the beaches of the country they represent.
This was followed by the Athletes and Officials Oaths. South African official, Bongani Xulu, was selected by the International Surfing Association to make the Oath on behalf of the Event Officials, a huge honour from the young man from Ballito on the KZN North Coast.
The opening day of competition took place in clean, glassy conditions, as athletes competed for a chance to surf in the Finals on Sunday. Athletes from all four divisions, Stand, Upright, Prone and Assist, made the most of the 2-3 foot waves at La Jolla Shores, executing impressive carves and manoeuvres.
Smyth and his teammates Dries Millard (Langebaan), Jean Paul Veaudry (East London) and Bruce Campbell all advanced and will be competing on the final day.
On a day of courage and inspiration one of the most memorable performances came from Lucas Retamales, a blind surfer from Chile, who was able to sense incoming waves and ride waves to the beach. Retamales lost his surfboard in the recent Chilean tsunami, but made the journey to California, borrowed a surfboard and then kept his composure and put on a spectacular effort on a borrowed board.
The ISA World Adaptive Championships will be completed tomorrow (Sunday). Watch every heat live at www.isasurf.org