Sport

Blind surfer who took on Pipeline an inspiration

WAVE rider Derek Rabelo's dream was to surf Pipeline, one of the world's most challenging waves. Derek, however, is no average surfer - he is blind.

Derek's father had dreams and aspirations for his unborn son. He prayed for him to become a professional surfer and named him after legendary surfer Derek Ho.

His hopes, however were shattered when Derek was born with congenital glaucoma on May 25, 1992, and after three unsuccessful surgeries, Derek's parents accepted he would never see.

Being blind did not deter Billabong rider Derek from his dream of surfing Pipeline and he embarked on a journey to conquer Pipeline, an area notorious for huge waves and cavernous reef.

It was on this journey that Brazilian-born Derek met and inspired pro wave riders from across the globe including 11 times world champion Kelly Slater, pro surfer and SUP rider Laird Hamilton, nine times world champion bodyboarder Mike Stewart, pro surfer Rob Machado, Lakey Petersen (sixth on the ASP Women's World Rankings) and pro surfer Tom Curren among others.

"Pipeline is basically the ultimate wave in a lot of ways - just a short, intense, dangerous wave that's close to the beach," Kelly Slater said.

"Many surfers with sight do not venture out even after they see that others can do it."

When the YouTube video of Derek surfing Pipeline with Makua Rothman went viral in 2012, it inspired filmmaker Bryan Jennings to produce the captivating documentary, Beyond Sight about Derek's gruelling three year physical, emotional and spiritual training regime to surf what Laird Hamilton describes as "one of the most dangerous waves in the world."

"And when you know what you're doing and have perfectly good eyes, you can die. When Derek went out to Pipeline and surfed, the angels were busy that day," Laird said.

The Billabong slogan 'only a surfer knows the feeling' is fitting for Derek as Australian 2012 world champion Joel Parkinson points out when he surfed with him at Pipeline.

"It's ironic that Derek is a part of the Billabong team and that with him not being able to see means he can only feel it," Joel said.

Derek credits his success and achievements to his faith in God and strong Christian values.

His attitude, perseverance and ability to overcome insurmountable hurdles has inspired top wave riders such as Lakey Peterson, who said: "Look at Derek, he lives 100% by faith and zero by sight and look what God's doing in his life."

Kelly Slater also said: "For Derek to actually surf one of the heaviest waves in the world (Pipeline) is unbelievable, he has definitely inspired me."

Topics:  coffs harbour, editors picks, surfer



Coffs Coast place names rude enough to make you blush

WHAT'S THAT? The Coffs Coast is home to a number of rudely named places.

Coffs Coast put on the map for having some of the rudest names

Best in the orchid business set to bloom

BEST IN SHOW: Last year's Grand Champion Orchid winner Neil Campbell is awarded the trophy by bcu Woolgoolga and Northside branch manager, Karen Mills.

Woolgoolga District Orchid Society Annual Spring Show is back

Backpacker tax to be slashed by almost half

CUT BACK: The Backpacker tax has been reduced by almost half of the originally proposed 32.5% rate.

The controversial tax has been cut but by nearly half

Local Partners

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

'Baby' recreates famous Nirvana cover shot 25 years later

The baby from Nevermind album has recreated the iconic cover shot.

PREVIEW: Luke Cage origin story is a strong addition to MCU

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage.

MIKE Colter stars as latest Marvel superhero to get his own series.

Kate goes down fighting in heated Survivor elimination

Australian Survivor contestant Kate Campbell.

YOGA teacher's 'good guys' alliance fails to get off the ground.

Emily Blunt's (almost) singing career

Emily Blunt nearly became the British Britney Spears.

Coffs region is hot property

The region’s housing market is looking up, with projects on the radar in Tannum Sands and Boyne Island.

Units and houses are both pulling strong returns for Coffs

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction

Peppers Airlie Beach put on the market

ON THE MARKET: Peppers Airlie Beach is being for recievership sale by CBRE Hotels and PRD Nationwide Airlie Beach.

Peppers Airlie Beach is being offered for sale.