PISMO BEACH, Calif. – The Pismo Beach International Surfing Association World Para Surfing Championship is underway.
Juan Manuel Ramajo is a para surfer from Spain.
He went to Pismo Beach to compete in this year’s International Surfing Association World Para Surfing Championship.
“The category I compete in is visual impairment,” said Ramajo. “Specifically, the ones who are completely blind.”
Ramajo may be unable to see, but he says the water calls his name, and he can feel the ocean breeze and water while he surfs in this competition.
“In my case, for example- the coach is surfing beside us and gives us instructions,” Ramajo. “They can not touch you; they guide you while in the water and tells you what to do. But they can not help you at all.”
The world championship is hosted by amp-surf, a Pismo-based non-profit dedicated to helping people of all abilities who want to go surfing.
Organizers say the first para-surfing competition began in 2015.
This is when competitors from all over the world come to one beach.
“It’s 28 nations I can mention, you know, Argentina, there’s Chile, obviously the US. hosting nation, Canada, Spain,” said the competition spokesman Federico Ferrante.
Four para surfers compete per heat.
There are different categories depending on their specific abilities.
"I can't believe it when I continue watching and see to see these guys how they evolve,” said Ferrante. “How to surf, it’s amazing.”
The number of participants keeps growing.
“There were, I think, around 124 athletes last year,” said Ferrante. “And this year, we had 181, which just. You know, just in number shows how this is growing."
Organizers hope para surfing becomes a paralympic sport; that way, people like Ramajo can compete beyond the world championship.
“As a blind person, I am guided by someone daily,” said Ramajo. “When surfing in the water, the concept is the same. The only difference is the water moves, and it’s more challenging. In the end, all you have to do is work with the waves.”
The competition is expected to last all week, and Sunday is the final day. For more information, click here.