derek rabelo

dreaming overpowers sight

brazil / rio de janerio

dreaming overpowers sight

Can a blind man surf on 5 meters high waves? Witness the story of a young man who overcomes the impossible!



derek rabelo


Derek was born in 1992 in Guarapari, Brazil. He was named by his father in honour of Derek Ho, the first Hawaiian world surfing champion. His father, a fan of the famous world champion, dreamed of his son following in the footsteps of the surfer he admired so much. But when Derek was born completely blind due to glaucoma, his father’s dream got put on hold.

Derek learnt about his Father's aspiration when he turned 17, and as a result decided to learn how to surf, registering himself into the Praia do Morro Surf School in Guarapari. Regardless of the negative feedback around him, Derek maintained his passion and in 3 months was able to surf with the help of his teacher Fabio Maru.

Onlookers were shocked by Derek and his story of success. At first the news was spread by word of mouth and later on through press the story became global, leading Derek to be invited to a big wave surfing event in Hawaii. Always expanding his dreams, Derek accepted the invitation and was able to share the waves with dozens of world famous surfers.

Today, Derek continues to be a professional surfer and maintains an interest in other fields such as cycling and skate boarding. All year round Derek travels the world chasing the best waves and giving motivational speeches to crowds of people worldwide.


One of the city’ small commercial centers takes it names from the bay on the ocean side. It is home to one of the oldest football clubs of Brazil and has one of the best views of the famous Urca hill.


The Copacabana Beach, located in the south part of the city with its 4 km length is one of the most famous beaches in the world. Originally named Sacopenapa meaning "the way of the socos". All year round you can find people surfing, swimming or working out. It is also the center of Rio’s New Year celebrations.


With its almost tailored waves probably is the most popular beach for surfing. The rock outcropping divides the beach into two, one part becoming suitable for body surfing and the other for freestyle surfing. The area, located between Copacabana and Ipanema attracts tourists with its nice cafes where you can try the tropical fruit Acai aka. surfer’ food.


Located between one of Rio’s biggest and most famous beaches Leblon and the São Conrado neighborhood. The area, also home to the biggest favelas in the city sits on a large hill, offering an astonishing ocean view.


A small settlement far from Rio de Janeiro’s tall buildings. With its wave conditions suitable for surfers and its white sands perfect for beach volleyball it becomes one of the most beautiful locations. In this area you can find a lot of old surf schools and shops. The view of the Atlantic Ocean in front and the subtropical jungle just behind it, creates an atmosphere not to be missed.

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It is a disease causing optic nerve damage due to high eye pressure. Derek could not be diagnosed as he started experiencing this disease while still in the womb and was born completely blind.

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