Derek Rabelo is an amazing guy. He’s humble, loves people, has huge amounts of faith and is a great surfer.
Derek is also blind and has been since birth, but this hasn’t stopped from him from pursuing his dream of surfing the legendary Pipeline.
Life changing stories
When I found out that Derek was presenting his film ‘Beyond Sight’ which charts his journey at only four locations in the UK, I snapped up a pair of tickets straight away. I love surf documentaries, especially those which focus on an individual. I love to hear their stories, how they got into surfing and how, like me, surfing has changed their lives.
But it’s those stories, where individuals have triumphed over adversity, or achieved their goals regardless of setbacks and challenges in life that really grab my attention and Derek’s story was no exception.
The film begins with Derek’s birth, blindness and childhood growing up in Brazil and it’s an emotional rollercoaster from the start. From the heart wrenching confession of Derek’s mother, who almost had an abortion when falling pregnant with Derek, to seeing Derek standing on a surfboard for the first time, right through to the hilarious moments which show Derek’s sheer determination which include his insistence of riding a skateboard. He does it all – even tow-in surfing!
The Q&A session at the end of the film with Derek Rabelo
Meeting the legends
Through his journey, Derek meets, surfs with and gets advice and encouragement from some of the sport’s legends – Rob Macahdo, Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater and even Eddie Rothman of Hawaii’s legendary Da Hui, a former surf gang who protested when contest surfers began forcing the locals out of their favourite surf breaks. Eddie even enforces the closure of Pipeline, to enable Derek to surf safely without the crowds. Derek also meets Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a shark when surfing at the age of 13. Like Derek, Bethany is very religious and put her faith in God to triumph over adversity.
Leap of faith
Faith is the overarching theme of the film and the clear message is that the best journeys in life are walked by faith and not by sight. Derek relies on his other senses to surf and when asked in the film how he knows when to duck dive and when to pop up, he replies that he hears and feels the ocean. But what really amazed me was when asked by a member of the audience at the end of the film to explain what he fears, he simply responded, “I don’t have a relationship with fear, I have a relationship with faith.”
It’s this belief that will undoubtedly carry Derek to his next mission where he is aiming even higher…to surf the notorious Jaws!
Good luck Derek! I will be watching your story with interest!