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Wilmot buoyed as surfers ride crest of a wave

Keisha Hill, Staff Reporter

The president of the Jamaica Surfing Association, Billy Wilmot, feels encouraged at the national team's recent accomplishment, when it climbed seven places up the regional standings.

The team, which returned to the island on Thursday, finished 10th from a field of 17 nations from around the Americas and the Caribbean at the eighth annual Pan American Surfing Association Surfing Games, held from November 4 to 11 in Iquique, Chile.

"The encouraging thing is that we have so much more scope for improvement," said Wilmot of the local team which was ranked 17th regionally after it failed to participate at the previous Games in 2005.

Tremendous disadvantage

He added: "Even though we are at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of experience and financial ability, our coaches and surfers responded to the training and coaching development programmes we have undertaken and were able to improve our regional ranking by seven places."

National coach Eugene Miller said it was a good experience for our surfers to be in the water with the best from the region.

"The team did well considering the language barrier and the difference in weather conditions. All Jamaicans should be proud of the team, especially since we were at the end of the rankings and are now placed in the Top 10," he said.

He added: "We are thankful to all the sponsors and we hope to get more sponsorship for the training programme so that we can continue to perform well, and be at the top of the region soon."

Regional surfing superpower Brazil took the top spot with hosts Chili second, Peru third and Costa Rica fourth.

Guadeloupe, the highest finishing Caribbean nation, were seventh.

Jamaica's 13-member delegation, under the guidance of national team coach, Eugene Miller was the largest field in the international surf competition's seven-year history.

The country fielded entrants in five divisions, competing in four open short board men, four junior short board men, two open short board women, two long board men and a body board man.

Local stand-outs included Icah Wilmot and Eneson Lightbourne who both won heats enroute to their 29th and 31st place finishes in the open men's division and the junior men's division, respectively.