East London’s top adaptive surfer Jean-Paul Veaudry came fifth in his division in the World Adaptive Surfing Championships held in San Diego recently.
Veaudry, who has been surfing since he was 12, lost his leg through a hit-and-run accident.
“I am a photographer and was coming home on my motorbike from shooting a wedding on May 23 2009 when someone ran a stop street, hit me and then drove away,” he said.
“Without half of my leg, I obviously had to change my style of surfing a fair bit. It’s rather exciting, like you’re learning all over again, pushing the limits and finding out your capabilities.”
The surfing champ has ridden waves all over the world.
“This is the fourth consecutive year the ISA [International Surfing Association] has hosted the World Adaptive Surfing Championships in San Diego at La Jolla shores.
“This year, like most, the waves were decent towards the start of the event and I managed to win all my heats leading up to the semifinals. Up until then, I was ranked third in my category (AS1 standing division).
“Come the semis and the winds went onshore and the waves were virtually non-existent. Due to time constraints, we surfed and I was only able to catch one terrible wave, coming third in my heat and fifth overall,” he said.
Veaudry, who captained the South African team, said they managed to bring home a gold and silver medal.
“I was unanimously voted as team captain this year. Due to numerous injuries and obligations, we were a small side of six but we all bettered our results from last year.
“Although we didn’t have near a full side, we still managed to get a ninth place overall out of 24 nations,” he said.
He counted travelling costs and leaving his family behind as one of the main challenges on his journey.
“A massive challenge every year is obtaining the financial support to get me there. We are in no way funded by our country that we represent and we therefore have to raise money privately. I seriously considered not going this year, as I was too embarrassed to once again ask the East London public to support me.
“If it wasn’t for a few local businesses – Marissa Nel and Associates and especially the RMA – I would never have had this amazing opportunity.
“The biggest challenge is leaving my family. Especially as my wife and I had another daughter eight 8 weeks ago, our family is now bigger and therefore more to miss!” he said.