'We will be ready to show the world what can be done'
TENACIOUS and talented Far North Coast waverider Mark 'Mono' Stewart took out back to back titles in his division at 2016 ISA Stance World Adaptive Surfing Championship at La Jolla, California, on Sunday.
In clean two to three foot waves and glassy conditions, Stewart, 54, showed his usual ripping form to claim the AS2 Stand/Kneel final to become a two-time World Adaptive Surfing Champion.
The on-legged champion who grew up in Mullumbimby and learned to surf at Byron Bay, was too strong for the competition in the final, scoring a robust heat total of 15.50 points to beat Frenchmen Eric Dargent (9.04 points), Brazilian Henrique Saraiva (8.73 points), and Hawaiian Colin Cook (5.23 points) in clean but small conditions at the La Jolla beach break.
There's been a lot of waves on shore after losing his right leg to cancer when he was just 16 years old.
Stewart said he was stoked with the win.
"Last year was great," he said.
"But this year even more special, mainly because I have seen so much progression in our sport this year and the amount of young people coming up and taking on what the older surfers are teaching them and that's what it is all about."
Stewart said it is vital to encourage younger surfers to participate and build their skills.
"Getting our youth involved now so when we get in the Paralympics we will be ready to show the world what can be done," he said.
Fellow Australian Barney Miller narrowly missed out on a maiden title, finishing second with a 11.16-point heat total in the AS5 Assist Final to Brazilian Davi Teixeira (14.5 points) whilst visually impaired Aussie athlete Matt Formston finished in third spot in the AS VI Visually Impaired division at his first world champs.
Jade 'Red' Wheatley also had an outstanding campaign, narrowly missing out on a final appearance by finishing third in his ASQ Stand/Kneel division semi-final.
Former Paralympian Dave Monk surfed into round two of the AS3 Upright division.
International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre, said he was very impressed with their performance and standard of all the competitors..
"The passion and energy of these surfers is second to none," he said.
"Regardless of who wins the medals... we finish the contest knowing that the sport of adaptive surfing has taken a huge step forward and will continue to spread joy to the lives of others around the world."
TEAM AUSTRALIA RESULTS:
Mark 'Mono' Stewart - AS2 Stand/Kneel division World Champion / Gold Medal
Dave Monk - Round 2, AS3 Upright division
Barney Miller - Silver medal, AS5 Assist division
Matt Formston - Bronze medal, AS VI Visually Impaired division
Jade 'Red' Wheatley - Semi-Finals, AS1 Stand/Kneel division
OVERALL TEAM RANKINGS:
1st - Brazil 5598 points
2nd - USA 5108 points
3rd - Chile 3192 points
4th - Australia 3783 points