2021 dryrobe® English Adaptive Surf Open - Report and Photos

2021 dryrobe® English Adaptive Surf Open - Report and Photos

The concrete shores of The Wave in Bristol were bathed in sunshine for last week’s incredible 2021 dryrobe® English Adaptive Surf Open. The day saw new champions crowned and the launch of a Waikiki participation session had some surfers riding waves for the very first time!



This was the second year the event had been held at The Wave and again it proved to be the ideal arena for an adaptive surf competition. As well as the guaranteed waves, the venue itself was designed to be 100% accessible, making it perfect for the needs of adaptive athletes.

Ahead of the competition, the atmosphere was full of anticipation and excitement. There is such a strong sense of community and camaraderie within the adaptive surf community. For some involved, the competition is as much a social event as it is a surf contest. Friendships soon turned into competitive rivalries once the waves started pumping.
Competitor getting ready to to get into the water at the 2021 dryrobe English Adaptive Surfing Open
Kicking off the competition, the Assisted Division sparked the interest of the crowds. Mark Hagger (competing with Surfing England for the first time) excelled with a wave score of 7.17, eventually taking the title. Battling for the other top spots, with some very close scores, were Jay Friedlander, Mark Bowra and Tash Davies.
Coaches and Volunteers getting ready to head into the water at the 2021 dryrobe English Adaptive Surfing open at The Wave
The Standing Division saw some crisp turns from competitors, with many charging to get into those barrel sections on the advanced wave setting. Israeli surfers Adi Klang and Nachman Balulu both put in some impressive surfing, taking home 1st and 2nd place respectively, edging dryrobe® Ambassador Pegleg Bennett into third.
Two surfers embracing in the water at 2021 dryrobe English Adaptive Surfing Open

In a standout moment from the Sitting/Kneeling division, Llywelyn ‘Sponge’ Williams got the crowd going with an epic 360 on the wave! This helped ‘Sponge’ retain his title, beating out Martin Pollock, who was closely followed in 2nd place.
Adaptive surfer competing at the 2021 dryrobe English Adaptive Surfing Open

(Photo courtesy of Image Cabin)

Two of the highlights of the competition (and a unique aspect of this event) are the Men’s and Women’s Open Divisions. These heats see competitors come together from across the divisions to battle it out for titles. It’s thrilling to watch and really got the crowd going.
Surfer competing at 2021 dryrobe English Adaptive Surfing Open
In the Men’s Open Adi Klang took home the crown with another impressive performance, Llywelyn ‘Sponge’ Williams and Pegleg Bennett came in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Charlotte Banfield took the Women’s Open title, improving on last year’s second-place finish, with Natasha Davies and Juliette Friedlander completing the top three.
Adaptive surfer getting out of the water at 2021 dryrobe English Adaptive Surfing Open
Surfing England is working hard to drive adaptive surfing forward, with ambitions to see it become a Paralympic sport. To help create pathways to participation, this year's event saw the introduction of a Waikiki session. This participation event welcomed 14 surfers to The Wave, for many their first-time surfing. The progression of the new surfers was amazing, with participants riding waves all the way into the bay!

This was also an opportunity for some adaptive surfers, who are above beginner level, to gain some experience and confidence to take their surfing up a notch and go on to compete at the event in the future.

Coach helping an adaptive surfer with their board
Throughout the hour-long Waikiki session, the atmosphere was incredible - the pier and lake were full of people shouting encouragement. Surfing shone through as a way to help transform people’s lives. Founder of The Wave and Chair of Surfing England, Nick Hounsfield as well as Surfing England’s CEO, Ben Powis both joined volunteers in the water to help support the surfers taking part in this phenomenal session.
Spectators at the 2021 dryrobe English Adaptive Surfing Open
After the event, Nick Hounsfield commented:

"Yesterday was the 'Day of Days'! After a rollercoaster year, it was incredible to see friends, athletes, volunteers, partners and sponsors all come together to create an event that epitomises ‘why we do, what we do’. Seeing the athletes step up another level from last year, combined with hosting the Waikiki taster session to help grow the sport, was the perfect combination of performance and purpose. The future for adaptive surfing as a sport is incredibly bright and there is a real groundswell of support behind building our healthy surfing community!"

Ben Powis added:

“The English adaptive surfing movement is gaining real momentum. We have some of the best athletes in the world, amazing support crew and events like this to showcase the sport and to feed into the work happening internationally to see adaptive surfing recognised as a Paralympic sport.”
The Wave, Bristol
Full results:

Men’s Open

1. Adi Klang
2. Llywelyn ‘Sponge’ Williams
3. Pegleg Bennett
4. Martin Pollock
Men's Open winners
Women’s Open

1. Charlotte Banfield
2. Natasha Davies
3. Juliette Friedlander
4. Katie Richards
Winners Open winners
Assisted

1. Mark Hagger
2. Juliette Friedlander
3. Mark Bowra
4. Natasha Davies
Assisted Division winners
Sitting/Kneeling

1 Llywelyn ‘Sponge’ Williams
2. Martin Pollock
3. Isaac Heaher
Sitting/Kneeling Division winners
Standing

1. Adi Klang
2. Nachman Yariv Balaulu
3. Pegleg Bennett
4. Louis Sutton
Standing Division winners
At dryrobe® were proud to be the headline sponsor of this awesome competition - the stoke levels were off the scale throughout the day! A huge thank you to Surfing England, The Wave and all the incredible volunteers from the surfing community for making this fantastic event possible. Bring on 2022!
Adaptive surfer competing at The wave

(Photo courtesy of Image Cabin)


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Twitter: @SurfingEngland

www.surfingengland.org

Photos by Tom Young (unless otherwise stated)


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