2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship: Emma Wins again! Kirk Watson and Joel Taylor Win Gold Too!! - Seven medal haul for the Irukandjis at the 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship
Emma Dieters (Mona Vale, NSW), Kirk Watson (Mona Vale, NSW) and Joel Taylor (Lennox Head, NSW) are our latest World Champions after winning gold in their divisions at the Huntington Beach 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship.
Emma and Kirk are both members of the Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Inc., based at Mona Vale Beach, Pittwater.
In total, the Irukandjis took home seven medals, with Jocelyn Neumueller (Adelaide, SA) finishing second in her division and Reddog Wheatley (Newcastle, NSW) third. Jack Jackson (Central Coast, NSW) came fourth in Men's Vision Impairment 2 and Kai Colless (Burleigh Heads, QLD) was fourth in Men's Prone 1, both returning home with copper.
Taylor topped the podium in his very first ISA event.
"Winning [a world title] with my family here by my side has been the best experience of my life,” Taylor told Surfing Australia.
"I waited 30 years for this. I’ve dreamed of being a World Champion since Eppo [Michael Eppelstun] won the first bodyboarding world title for Australia in 1993. I was a professional bodyboarder when I had my injury in 2001 and had over 20 years out of the water. To win, after just 12 months as a para surfer, is mind blowing."
Joel Taylor, Credit: ISA / Pablo Franco
Emma Dieters, who last year won gold in the Women’s Prone 1 division at Pismo Beach in California, said: "I can’t believe it happened again. So stoked. I moved up to the unassisted category this year so I really worked hard for this one. I didn’t want to be a one hit wonder. Thank you to everyone that had a part in helping me achieve my goal this year. Congratulations to all the Aussies who performed so well, especially the young ones Kai and Annie in their first World Championships. Congratulations to all medal winners."
Watson won his first gold medal after multiple previous finals.
Kirk said: "Fourth attempt's the charm, very strategic final lots of manoeuvring for priority. Congratulations to all the fellow Irukandjis and great to see some young talent perform well."
2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship – Team Irukandjis:
- Joel Taylor – PS-Prone 1 *GOLD
- Kai Colless – PS-Prone 1 *COPPER
- Mark "Mono" Stewart – PS-Kneel
- Reddog Wheatley – PS-Kneel *BRONZE
- Jocelyn Neumueller – PS-Prone 2 *SILVER
- Annie Goldsmith – PS-Prone 2
- Emma Dieters – PS-Prone 1 *GOLD
- Kirk Watson – PS-Vision 1 *GOLD
- Jack Jackson – PS-Vision 2 *COPPER
- Matt Formston – PS-Vision 2
Mark "Mono" Stewart, Photo Credit: ISA/Sean Evans
Huntington Beach, California – November 11, 2023 (US time)
Performance levels were pushed, new records were set and history was made on a phenomenal day of surfing that saw fourteen World Champions crowned in Surf City USA to close competition at the 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship (WSPC).
France claimed their first WPSC team gold medal, to join with their team wins across all other current ISA competitions. USA took the silver medal, Brazil, bronze. England won copper, their first ever ISA team medal, largely thanks to Charlotte Banfield’s victory in Women’s Stand 3.
“It’s really, really exciting,” Banfield said. “I think the team we’ve got this year is the strongest we’ve ever had, and not only is it a strong team, it’s a supportive team.”
Three multiple World Champions added to their medal counts. Davi Teixeira (BRA) and Marta Paço (POR) each earned their third gold medal, while Victoria Feige (CAN) further extended her own record, collecting her fifth. This year however, para surfing’s winningest woman faced her strongest competition yet.
“Seeing the level rise, it’s so sweet to have a victory, but seeing the movement rise is probably the best part,” Feige said. “It’s also so empowering, because I feel like I’m not alone, there’s other girls in the world with disabilities like mine who’ve got that fire to really push the level.”
New World Champions were crowned in six divisions. Aaron Paulk (HAW), Kirk Watson (AUS) and Sarah Almagro (ESP) each won their first gold medals after multiple previous finals, Laurie Phipps (FRA) claimed gold in her second, and Nagisa Ikegami (JPN) and Joel Taylor (AUS) topped the podium in their very first event.
“[This has been] the best experience of my life,” Taylor said. “I’ve waited for 30 years. I’ve dreamed of being a World Champion from when Eppo (Michael Eppelstun) won the first world title for Australia in bodyboarding. I worked a long time as a bodyboarder and then I had my injury and then over 20 years out of the water and 12 months later, as a para surfer, it’s mind-blowing.”
Alelí Medina (PUR), Rafael Lueders (BRA) and Llywelyn ‘Sponge Williams (WAL) each backed up their inaugural victories in 2022. After winning her first gold medal in the assisted Prone 2 classification in 2022, Emma Dieters (AUS) collected her second in her new classification, the unassisted Prone 1. 2020 Stand 2 gold medalist Roberto Pino (BRA) earned his first gold medal in the Stand 1 classification.
Norway’s Ismael Guilliorit returned to competition after six years away to make his first Final and win his nation their first ever ISA medal.
“For the Norwegian people, I opened the door,” Guilliorit said. “So now they can believe that we are able to take some good waves at the competition.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“Many years ago, when we started with the first Para Surfing World Championship, it was an act of faith, an act of hope, thinking that this could become the beginning of a new era for surfing, an era in which we open our arms and our competitions to all surfers, regardless of their physical abilities, and it has been wonderful.
“What a week Huntington Beach has served for us, incredible, unforgettable. Of course in the back of all our minds is the hope, it might happen, that the LA 2028 Paralympic Games will finally include Para Surfing.”
Gold - France
Silver - USA
Bronze - Brazil
Copper - England
Men’s Vision Impairment 2
Gold - Aaron Paulk (HAW)
Silver - Roy Calderon (CRC)
Bronze - Pierrot Gagliano (FRA)
Copper - Jack Jackson (AUS)
Women’s Vision Impairment 2
Gold - Aleli Medina (PUR)
Silver - Melissa Reid (ENG)
Bronze - Lou Mechiche (FRA)
Copper - Ling Pai (CAN)
Men’s Vision Impairment 1
Gold - Kirk Watson (AUS)
Silver - Thomas Da Silva (FRA)
Bronze - Elias Ricardo Diel (BRA)
Copper - Ben Neumann (GER)
Women’s Vision Impairment 1
Gold - Marta Paço (POR)
Silver - Valentine Moskoteoc (FRA)
Bronze - Carmen Lopez (ESP)
Copper - Juliette Mas (FRA)
Men’s Prone 2
Gold - Davi Teixeira (BRA)
Silver - Jose Martinez (USA)
Bronze - Tomoki Fujiwara (JPN)
Copper - Ander Goenaga (ESP)
Women’s Prone 2
Gold - Sarah Almagro (ESP)
Silver - Jocelyn Neumueller (AUS)
Bronze - Celine Roulliard (FRA)
Copper - Ann Yoshida (HAW)
Men’s Prone 1
Gold - Joel Taylor (AUS)
Silver - Christian ‘Otter’ Bailey (USA)
Bronze - Casey Proud (HAW)
Copper - Kai Colless (AUS)
Women’s Prone 1
Gold - Emma Dieters (AUS)
Silver - Kayla Woputz (HAW)
Bronze - Tracy McKay (RSA)
Copper - Paloma Onate (ESP)
Gold - Llywelyn ‘Sponge Williams (WAL)
Silver - Ibon Oregi (ESP)
Bronze - Reddog Wheatley (AUS)
Copper - Henrique Saraiva (BRA)
Gold - Victoria Feige (CAN)
Silver - Vera Quaresma (BRA)
Bronze - Audrey Pascual (ESP)
Copper - Emmanuelle Blanchet (FRA)
Men’s Stand 2
Gold - Rafael Lueders (BRA)
Silver - Ismaël Guilliorit (NOR)
Bronze - Jean Paul Veaudry (RSA)
Copper - Kenjiro Ito (JPN)
Women’s Stand 2
Gold - Laurie Phipps (FRA)
Silver - Zoe Smith (ENG)
Bronze - Malu Mendes (FRA)
Copper - Kirsty Taylor (WAL)
Men’s Stand 1
Gold - Roberto Pino (BRA)
Silver - Shingo Kato (JPN)
Bronze - Camilo Abdula (POR)
Copper - Maxime Clarkin (FRA)
Women’s Stand 1
Gold - Nagisa Ikegami (JPN)
Silver - Liv Stone (USA)
Bronze - Catalina Castro (CHI)
Copper - Chikako Takao (JPN)
On Day 3 of the 2023 competition Emma Dieters dropped into one of the biggest waves of the day to mark her debut in the Prone 1 classification. After winning gold in Prone 2 in 2022, her first year of para surfing competition, the 41-year-old is happy to be back representing her nation.
“It’s cool to come back with the Australian team and try and get that vibe going again that we had last year,” Emma said. “We all did really, really well for Australia, so hopefully we can replicate that again this year.”
Emma on Day 3 - Photos Credit: ISA / Jersson Barbozza and ISA/Pablo Franco