Huntington Beach, California – November 5, 2023 – The 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championship (WPSC) officially opened today in Surf City USA, with hundreds of spectators turning up to Huntington Beach’s Main Street to show their support and witness the largest gathering of Para Surfers in history.

The Parade of Nations was a stunning sight, led by the Huntington Beach High School marching band. The opening featured 184 of the world’s best Para Surfers, representing 27 national teams, and 9 different Para Surfing Sport Classes, coming together with flags waving high and loud cheers ringing out, as they paraded towards the famous Huntington Beach Pier.

The ISA’s signature Sands of the World ceremony followed. One member from each national team poured sand from their local beach into a single container, a symbol of the peaceful gathering of nations of the world through surfing.

The record-breaking field includes 62 women para surfers, representing over 33 percent of the athletes. For the first time ever, it also includes participants from Saudi Arabia.

The eighth edition of the WPSC also marks the eighth major ISA event to be held in Huntington Beach, dating back nearly 40 years. It is the first time the iconic destination will host the WPSC.

Visit Huntington Beach CEO Kelly Miller and Huntington Beach Mayor Tony Strickland welcomed the athletes and declared the event officially open.

“Surf culture is rich in our history and your name and experiences are going to add to that next chapter,” Miller said. “We’re stoked to be a part of Para Surfing, it’s a big part of what we’re doing. And I know you’re equally stoked to hopefully see Para Surfing as a part of the 2028 Paralympic Games.”

ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:

“I’m so happy to see a record amount of countries, participants, nations, competitors, everything. We keep on growing. And you know we have high aspirations. Many years ago people told me, ‘Fernando don’t waste your time. Olympic surfing is never going to happen.’ Well, I don’t think we wasted our time.

“Now surfing is in its second Olympic cycle. And I want you to know that since day one we’ve been trying for Para Surfing to be in the Paralympic Games. We tried for Tokyo, they told us no. We tried for Paris, they told us no. Now we’re trying very hard for Los Angeles 2028. Para Surfing needs to be in the Olympic Games. It’s one of those sports that will bring so much energy, positivity, and equal access to everybody.”

The 2023 WPSC is set to begin with Men’s Kneel at 7:30am, Monday, November 6, at Southside Huntington Beach Pier.