Makawao Man Placed 3rd for Visually Impaired at World Para Surfing Championships
The Hawaiʻi Adaptive Surf Team placed fifth in the world at the 2021 Pismo Beach ISA World Para Surfing Championships, with 38-year-old Aaron Paulk of Makawao taking third in the menʻs Visually Impaired 2 Division.
Twenty-four international teams competed Dec. 7-11 in California in eight divisions, which include Kneel, Prone, Stand and Visually Impaired.
In addition to Paulk, three other members of the Hawaiʻi team won top three places in their individual divisions:
- Casey Proud, 35, from Kealakehua, Hawaiʻi Island won silver in the Menʻs Prone 1 Division. It was Proudʻs first world championships and he was only .13 points from the gold. This division is for surfers who ride prone position and do not require assistance paddling into a wave and getting back on their board safely.
- Colin Cook, 31, of Waialua, Oʻahu won silver in the Men’s Stand 3 Division. This division is for surfers who ride standing position with a lower body impairment above the knee.
- Harrison Doi, 32, of Honolulu placed third in Menʻs Stand 1 Division. This division is for surfers who ride in a standing position with an upper body impairment or short stature.
Rounding out Team Hawaii: Josh Bogle (Haʻikū); Eric Lazar (Koloa, Kauaʻi); Ava Heller (Kailua, Oʻahu); Jesse Del Mar (Honolulu); Buster Kawasaki (Kapolei, Oʻahu); and Ava Heller (Kailua, Oʻahu).
Joining the team were staff and supporters of AccesSurf, the local nonprofit that provides free surf and ocean experiences for people with disabilities. The nonprofit runs more than 65 program days and 2,500 ocean experiences a year, including adaptive paddling, surfing, swimming and specialized events for wounded warriors.
The team travel was sponsored by Southwest Airlines, North Shore Prosthetics, Mala Tavern, Down The Hatch Maui, Breakwall Shave Ice Co, Adaptive Maui and Hinano.
“We are so proud of the team that worked together at the Para Surfing World Championship representing Hawaii,” said Cara Short, Executive Director of AccesSurf. “This team worked hard to train and compete throughout the year to prepare for the World Championships and brought the aloha spirit and stoke to Pismo Beach. Mahalo to Southwest Airlines and everyone that helped Team Hawaii compete on the international stage.”
To become a participant, volunteer or learn more about AccesSurf, visit www.accessurf.org. Follow on social media: Facebook @accessurf and Instagram @accessurf_hawaii.