The Blind Surfer


Derek Rabelo and his surfboard
Photo by Adam McLean via illawarramercury.com.au

Liz Waid and Colin Lowther tell about Brazilian professional surfer Derek Rabelo. This sport depends on seeing, but Derek is blind.

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

Big waves form on the ocean. On the waves, there are a lot of people with surfboards. These flat, long, narrow pieces of wood are shaped with a point at the front. The people lie on their surfboards until the waves push them along. When a big enough wave begins to push them, they try to stand up. This is called “catching” the wave. When they catch the wave, they try to stay standing while their surfboard is on the wave. Some people stand and fall immediately. Others can stay standing longer. But the best people can ride the biggest waves until they reach the land. This is a popular sport called surfing.

Voice 2  

One of the most important parts of surfing is being able to see waves that will be easy to catch. Surfers always watch the water for the best waves. Derek Rabelo is a surfer. However, Rabelo has one big difference from other surfers. He surfs without seeing! Today’s Spotlight is on Derek Rabelo, a blind professional surfer.

Voice 1  

Derek Rabelo was born with congenital glaucoma. This is a rare condition that damages the nerve in the eye. He was unable to see anything. He had four treatments to try to fix the problem. But none of them worked.

Voice 2  

Derek grew up in a small city on the coast of Brazil. Surfing is very common in warm areas like this, where people live close to the ocean. As a child, Derek could hear the waves of the ocean from where he lived. His father, family, and friends all knew how to surf. Derek wanted to surf too. But no one had ever seen a blind person surf before. They did not know if he could do it. But then his father gave him a surfboard when he was 17 years old. Rabelo told reporter Kate Midena:

Voice 3  

“I remember my first time surfing. My father brought me to the beach and he pushed me over a couple of waves. I was trying to stand up but I couldn’t, it was hard. But I kept going for a couple of waves later. It was the best feeling, I loved it. I wanted to feel like this forever.”

Voice 1  

But learning to surf blind was not easy. In an interview with The Inertia, Rabelo explained how being blind influenced his surfing training:

Voice 3  

“I was born blind, so being blind is normal for me. But I still had to get used to it. I had to find ways to change, make my own way, to learn things and to live. The biggest thing for me has been to learn how to surf. I also had to learn how to deal with my negative thoughts, like ‘No way can I learn this’ or ‘I should give up’. But my God is powerful and I have faith in him. And he helped me succeed. I never imagined I could surf or do things like this. But it was always in my mind. It was my dream.”

Voice 2  

Part of Rabelo’s dream was to surf the Banzai Pipeline. This is an area on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Pipeline has the world’s most difficult and dangerous waves. Kelly Slater is a World Champion surfer. In a film about Rabelo’s life, he explained:

Voice 4  

“Pipeline is basically the most difficult wave in a lot of ways. It is a short, intense, dangerous wave that is close to the land. Many surfers who can see do not try to surf it, even after they see that others can do it.”

Voice 1  

People have died or been extremely injured trying to ride these waves. Many people thought Rabelo could not do it. But he wanted to try it. At 17, he joined the Praia do Morro surf school in Brazil. Only three months later, he was invited to Hawaii to surf Pipeline.

Voice 2  

Surfing Pipeline is a dream for many surfers. Many surfers spend their whole lives training to be good enough. They need the right equipment. The beaches are often very busy. And sometimes people must join waiting lists to even get in the water. It is an honor to be able to surf there. Rabelo shared his experience of surfing Pipeline in a video for Nutri-Grain:

Voice 3  

“When you step on the sand at Pipeline and start walking towards the water, you become nervous and a little bit afraid. But I never let those feelings stop me. When I got my first wave at Pipeline, I thought, ‘Wow! I cannot believe I am here. This is awesome. I am surfing the waves of my dreams.’”

Voice 1  

So how does someone who cannot see do a sport that depends so much on sight? Rabelo depends on many other people to help him. He works with a coach. The coach helps him to the water and tells him information about the area he will be surfing in. But Rabelo also uses his own natural skills to surf. He listens to the sound of the waves. He can hear sets of waves coming toward him. He touches the water with his hands to feel how it is moving. He lets the waves come to him. He then decides which side of the wave he should surf toward.

Voice 2  

In 2012, a video of Rabelo surfing Pipeline went viral on YouTube. Hundreds of thousands of people saw him surf. Bryan Jennings saw the video. He is a filmmaker. He made a film about Rabelo. It is called “Beyond Sight”. It tells Rabelo’s story. In the film, Rabelo shares why surfing is so important to him. It is more than a sport.

Voice 3  

“When I surf, I feel so close to God. I do not have fear because God is bigger than my fear.  I want to keep telling people about how God helped me in my life. I want to surf more big waves, like in Indonesia and Mexico. And of course, I want to keep helping and encouraging people.”

Voice 1  

Derek Rabelo has earned the respect of many professional surfers. Surfing officials have invited him to surf at amazing beaches all around the world. Rabelo gives advice for any person who has a dream. He told Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Voice 3  

“You have to believe in yourself. Go chase your dreams and you can do it if you want.”

Voice 2  

Do you have a dream that seems impossible to achieve? Tell us about it. Leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. And find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Lauren Anders Visser. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “The Blind Surfer”.

Voice 2  

Look for our free listening app in the Google Play Store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you ever had a dream that seemed impossible to achieve? Did you try to follow it or did you give up?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on March 01, 2018

God is start and finish of all creatures. We cannot exist without God. We live for God and we die for God. We live our faith life. Each of us has different living conditions. We are concerned about many things in life. We are concerned about our present and future. We wish beautiful good things. Our faith life has many challenges. Our faith life has big challenges. We believe in God. Our hope is in God.

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Badr baslaib
said on March 09, 2019

Thank spotlight to help people learn English by easy methods but can i practice with people online i want improve speaking skill .

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Honneur
said on March 09, 2019

I have a dream of speaking English fluently and correctly. I have been studying for a long time and I can read, listen, write and understand well, but I can not “think” in English, so my speaking is very bad. When I went to the United States or the United Kingdom, my pronunciation got better in three or four days. I do not have people to speak English in Brazil. I know that one day I will make my dream come true. I believe this ...