Born with congenital glaucoma, 21-year-old Brazilian surfer, Derek Rabelo, stands in victory. Nothing stops this young surfer from riding high tides and big waves. At the age of 3 years old, he took up the sport in his small town of Guarapari, Brazil. Despite being blind, he participated in many other recreational activities; swimming, skateboarding and riding bikes. Recently though, Rabelo has become recognized globally in the surf community.
Last winter, Rabelo traveled to the North Shore of Oahu, to surf Pipeline. His amazing journey and achievements are shown in the upcoming documentary, Beyond Sight. Rabelo stars in the film, showing him overcoming and rising above his challenges in the sport of surfing. He was welcomed by pro-surfers, including Kelly Slater, Damien Hobgood, Rob Machado, Lakey Peterson, Taj Burrow and Laird Hamiltoy.
Rabelo proves that despite his lack of visual sight, you can accomplish anything through inner strength and determination. He became an inspiration for younger surfers with his duckdiving incoming whitewash with perfect timing, precision and form. As Rabelo explains in an interview, “I can see the same things as others, except in different ways.”
Rabelo holds on to his faith in God and as he says, “With God, everything is possible.” From infancy, Rabelo’s father prayed that his son would rise to victory and become a famous professional surfer. His father’s prayers are answered by this remarkable opportunity. The church and a group called Souls 4 Jesus Hawaii Productions team, helped Rabelo go to Hawaii last winter. The surf community embraced him with open arms and took Derek out to surf Pipeline among a crowd of competitive surfers.
Rabelo embarked on a three-year adventure overcoming mental and physical demands to rise to victory in the sport of Pipeline Surfing. Rabelo has proved that some of the best journeys are by faith and not by sight.
The documentary, Beyond Sight, is part of a non-profit organization called Walking On Water Films. Since 1997, the founder Bryan Jennings has produced eleven independent faith based family movies. CNN, Good Morning America and other media outlets have expressed interest in Rabelo’s story.
BEYOND SIGHT, The Derek Rabelo Documentary Trailer.
Rabelo’s story has also been featured in a music video by the popular Christian band Audio Adrenaline. The song titled, Believer tells a glimpse into Rabelo’s story.
Trivial complaints like high tides and sideshore winds will often come into our lives; but what Rabelo’s story teaches us is sometimes we must only rely on our God-given senses to see us through.
Notes & References:
1. May 2013 issue of TransWorld SURF magazine.
2. Derek Rabelo. Photo by: Brian Bielmann