Lismore City News
Saturday, 2 December 2023

Big step forward with para surfers included at Surfing Australia titles

By Mitchell Craig
Updated July 25 2022 - 2:14pm, first published July 19 2022 - 12:10pm

THREE-time world champion Mark 'Mono' Stewart will look to remain unbeaten in the adaptive division at the Australian Para Surfing Titles in Port Macquarie.

RIDING HIGH: Byron Bay surfer Mark 'Mono' Stewart will lead the charge at the Australian Para Surfing Titles in Port Macquarie next month. Picture: ISA/Sean Evans.
RIDING HIGH: Byron Bay surfer Mark 'Mono' Stewart will lead the charge at the Australian Para Surfing Titles in Port Macquarie next month. Picture: ISA/Sean Evans.

There will be extra eyes on the para division this year with it incorporated alongside the shortboard, longboard, logger titles and Bodyboarders competition for the first time next month.

The country's top adaptive surfing athletes, who have also had great success internationally this year, will make their way to Port Macquarie where new Australian Champions will be crowned across the six divisions.


Stewart, who was born in Lismore and has spent most of his adult life in Byron Bay, surfs with one leg in the kneel division and has been a driving force in bringing adaptive surfing to the world stage.

He was named male Para-Surfer of The Year at the Australian surfing awards in May and won the inaugural Adaptive Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour event in Hawaii last month.

The 57-year-old grew up on a dairy farm near Nimbin and lost his leg to cancer as a teenager.

He has won every Australian Title since the para division titles began in 2016.

"I'm really looking forward to the Aussie Titles at a wave-rich region like beautiful Port Macquarie," Stewart said.

"Having the Para Surf Titles included in the Championships is a great step forward.

"This year we will see a lot of new athletes vying for a spot on the Australian team to compete at the 2022 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Championships in California.

"We're looking forward to seeing the Port Macquarie locals come down and see our stellar line-up of adaptive surfers perform. It's pretty inspiring stuff."

The Para Surfing Titles has gained significant momentum in the last five years and championship events are gaining interest internationally.

An increase in state, national and international events has been established and there is a drive to support the growth of the sport and ensure the inclusion of all surfers.

The Australian Surfing Championships is one of the biggest and most prestigious events on the Surfing Australia calendar.

Dual Australian Champion Sam Bloom has been competing for four years.

She is thankful for the happiness surfing and the ocean has given her, as well as the opportunity to be a competitive athlete.

"Representing your country is the best feeling in the world," said Bloom, who is a two-time World Para Surfing Champion.

"All para surfing events are incredibly important. They show the world that it doesn't matter what you've been through or the insurmountable challenges you've overcome because the ocean can create a positive mindset that can change your life and help you achieve things you never thought possible.

"It's a place of so much healing and happiness for people whose lives didn't turn out the way they thought they would."

More than 500 surfers will compete across the entire event with the para titles to be held on Sunday, August 20.