This professional surfer was born completely blind

By Samantha Luiz
08 February 2016

The inspirational story of a professional surfer who was born completely blind.

He was destined to be a surfer. When he was born, his father named him after Derek Ho, the first Hawaiian world surfing champion. An avid fan of the sport, he hoped his son would follow in his namesake's footsteps.

But his dream seemed unreachable when his son was born completely blind due to glaucoma.

Despite his condition, Derek Rabelo (23), from Guarapari, Brazil, also fell in love with surfing.

“I lived near the beach and I always wanted to surf," revealed Derek.

"My father was a very good surfer and my uncle was a pro surfer, the surf was in my blood."

When he was 17 years old, he found out about his father's dream to see him surf professionally. Determined to make it a reality, he joined the Praia do Morro surf school where he trained under coach Fabio Maru.

Not everyone was on board with him pursuing his dream.

"Many people told me that surfing was too dangerous for me and I couldn't do it," he admits.

"All these negative words are like the waves in the ocean. Trying to tip you over and make you fall."

Fortunately, Derek's dad "encouraged and helped me".

“We went to the ocean together in the mornings. However, he sent me to a surf course to learn and practise more. I have also practised a lot with my friends. They always consider me just as themselves.”

His hard work and perseverance paid off. A mere three months later, the surfer was invited to compete in Hawaii, the beginning of his professional career.

“I listen to the ocean and feel it,” revealed Derek when asked how he is able to surf without his vision.

“And every single part of a wave makes different noises.

"So, I can decide which side of the wave I should surf towards. If you have a dream, you have to believe in yourself. Otherwise, you can not do it. I believe all of us have strong senses given by god. Use them with passion and perseverance.”

"Finally, I made my father's dream come and become a surfer."


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