A disabled Powys surfer made the final in the world tour despite crocodiles in the water and only having 24 hours’ notice of his involvement in the competition.

Oliver Vaughan Jones, originally from Llandyssil, reached the final of the Costa Rica leg of the ASP world tour in Boca Barranca which sees the best adaptive surfers in the world compete.

He decided to compete in this round impulsively after being encouraged by Welsh World Champion Llywelyn 'Sponge' Williams.

“Even though he was a direct competitor he said you have got to get out here,” said Oliver.

(Image: Watching over the Waves Ocean Photography)

“I literally booked this as I was taking the train to the airport. I booked the hotel whilst I was on the plane – it was all on a wing and a prayer. I managed to find a one way ticket of £200.

“I thought if I could get out to this one it would be a great chance to mingle with the top guys in my category of knee surfing.”


When he got there, he was left ill by his condition but was immediately thrust into the competition in just a matter of hours.

After a “big welcome” in the opening ceremony that included a performance by local dancers he was off to surf in the mouth of the river.

(Image: Watching over the Waves Ocean Photography)

“It was nuts within 10 hours of landing and getting a beach wheelchair down to the riverbed,” said Oliver. “Then we were towed up the river mouth by jet ski, it was only today that someone sent me a video with the crocodiles in the river – I didn’t even know.

“You hear it and you just go ‘yeah yeah’ – turns out there was.

“The first heat with no practice it went pretty well and I got a big long ride. You do all this work as a surfer for maybe about 10 seconds. So to ride for about a minute long its really good but really strange. You think ‘huh I have time on my hands’.

“That got me buzzed up.”

Oliver was left ill again as the stress ‘pushed him to his limits’, however he was back in the water the next day for the second heats.

“It went brilliantly,” said Oliver “I don’t know what happened but I was against all the top guys and someone said I think you made the final four.

Oliver (right) with Llywelyn Sponge Williams and winner Michael FotiOliver (right) with Llywelyn Sponge Williams and winner Michael Foti (Image: ASP World Tour)

“I was so nervous I went into their village hall area as it was too nerve wracking. Then when it tallied out I made the final base of 0.03 points which is just a whisker.

“Everyone came to congratulate me.”

He made the final of the event with ‘Sponge’ Williams, the first time two Welshmen reached a final.

“Sadly, we all got pipped in the final by Australian Michael Foti,” said Oliver. “He is a single leg amputee but he is incredible, he is 61, he is absolutely smashing it.

“My aim was to always tickle the toes of the top guys just so they know that I am there.”