Participation in adaptive surfing has seen a huge increase ahead of the 2016 ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships next month ©ISA

Next month's World Adaptive Surfing Championship in California has already helped to rapidly increase the development of the sport, the governing body has claimed. 

As a host of athletes prepare to represent their nations at La Jolla Shores beach between December 8 and 11, the International Surfing Association (ISA) say that the number of people taking part in adaptive surfing - for those with disabilities - has risen dramatically worldwide. 

Following the inaugural edition of the event in 2015, governing bodies from five continents have now organised National Championships as a method of selecting their teams for this year's competition.

France, Australia, Chile, Brazil, the United States, Hawaii and South Africa are among the teams that have held events to decide which athletes will compete for them in California.

In October, South Africa held their first-ever National Championship, marking a milestone moment for adaptive surfing in the country.

Members of the South African team at the 2015 Championship will compete again next month, including Antony Smyth, winner of the silver medal in the stand division, JP Veaudry and Dries Millard.

They will be joined by four new competitors, including Caleb Swanepoel, who took up the sport after a shark attack nearly took his life in June 2015, resulting in the loss of his right leg.

Growth in adaptive surfing is also visible in Australia, where their National Championship was held in June.

A high performance adaptive surfing camp was also held with the members of the Australian team.

A number of national federations, including South Africa (pictured) are now hosting their own domestic competitions ©ISA
A number of national federations, including South Africa (pictured) are now hosting their own domestic competitions ©ISA

Mark Stewart, who lost his leg due to bone cancer when he was 14, won the competition and will once again represent Australia in the AS-2 division.

In June, the US staged their adaptive surfing National Championship which featured 30 athletes, growing from just nine competitors in 2015.

Dani Burt, who lost her right leg above the knee in a motorcycle accident 12-years-ago, was crowned champion of the AS-2 Division and will represent the US on home water in December.

"The 2016 ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship is creating waves around the world and inspiring the growth and development of new adaptive surfing programmes and Championships," said ISA President Fernando Aguerre.

"It is amazing to watch the increase in global access and participation of the sport introducing athletes with physical challenges to surfing and its healing powers.

"This progress is truly remarkable and is just the start of something much bigger and wider reaching.

"The ISA is fully committed to the development of this important discipline and sees these efforts ultimately as a pathway to adaptive surfing’s inclusion in the Paralympic Games in the future."

The 2015 Championships, also held at La Jolla near San Diego, featured 69 surfers from 18 countries and this year's edition will include team medals and two new divisions.

A visually impaired category and a new standing division that will separate the standing and kneeling surfers into two classes, based on the level of their impairment, will be introduced.