OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Para surfers from around the world are ready to prove themselves as world champions.
Dozens of elite athletes will compete in the sixth annual U.S. Open Adaptive Surfing Championship taking place by the Oceanside Pier Thursday through Sunday.
This is the last stop in the 2023 World Tour after athletes competed in Hawaii and Costa Rica.
Wednesday served as a free day for surfers to practice and get registered.
Heats are slated about every 20 minutes starting Thursday. Athletes are grouped by skill sets in nine divisions.
These surfers are highly experienced and full of heart, tenaciously overcoming trauma and obstacles.
When he was 19 years old, Charles “Chaka” Webb thought he would never surf again after a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, but then he was introduced to adaptive surfing and paddleboarding.
“We are all about ocean therapy and the healing of the ocean,” Webb said.
Webb founded the Stoke for Life Foundation in 2015 and created the U.S. Open a few years later with the intention of expanding adaptive surfing professionally.
“We wanted to raise the level of adaptive surfing,” Webb said. “We wanted prize money and wanted opportunity for sponsorship. We wanted surfers to go back to wherever they are from and say, ‘I won a U.S. Open Championship and got paid,’ and get a wetsuit sponsor, get a board sponsor. It’s real important because regular surfers have that in abundance and adaptive surfers, unfortunately, adaptive sports in general are underserved so we just want to create that crossover and create that professional platform.”
For more information on the U.S. Open Adaptive Surfing Championship, click here.
World champions will be crowned in all divisions with more than $60,000 in prize money will be distributed.