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J'can surfers make waves in California

Paul-Andre Walker, Staff Reporter

JAMAICA'S FIRST team to a major surfing championships returned to the island on Monday after making waves at the Quicksilver International Surfing Association's Junior World Surfing Championships held in Huntingdon Beach, California last week.

The Jamaicans enjoyed tremendous popularity and acquitted themselves fairly well, claiming 19th place in the tournament which comprised 29 teams.

For the Jamaicans, their captain, Icah Wilmot in the Boys' Under-18 competition proved the standout, placing 31st in his section.

His age-group teammates Tristan English (73rd) and Junior Hibberts and Alex Marley (tied for 85th) also performed well.

In the Boys' Under-16 competition, Ackeem Phillips showed his worth with a 37th-place finish, while his teammates Shane Simmons and Enson Lightbourn were 73rd. Jason Pusey ended 85th.

In the Girls' Under-18 division, Imani Wilmot and Noelle Jackson were 61st, while Elim Beckford did her country proud with a 49th-place finishing.

Team manager Billy Wilmot was excited about the way the team performed and thought that the sport of surfing in Jamaica, as well as the sport worldwide benefited from the involvement of the Jamaicans.

"As you can see, it was a major event. The kids felt the magnitude of it and were a little overwhelmed because most of them had never competed in a big event before," Wilmot said.


"Coming out of the tournament they have realised that they have what it takes to compete at that level and it has renewed their commitment to the sport," he said. One of the highlights of the tournament came when Phillips was adjudged to have infringed on another surfer's wave.

The penalty that comes with that is the loss of half your points for the wave that you ride in your next set.

To the joy and applause of the well-populated beach, Phillips, without complaining, returned to ride the biggest wave of the set and score heavily to advance to the next round.

Standing ovations were the order of the tournament, because the knowledgeable crowd was also warmed by the performance of young Noelle Jackson, who did well despite limited experience.

For Icah Wilmot's part, he had the good fortune of being the highest-placed, English-speaking Caribbean entrant to grace the World Championships, an honour that will stay with the young man until the next World Championships when he, and his teammates, expect to do even better.

"They've already been talking about the next one being different," said Billy Wilmot, who was happy with the tournament.

Wilmot also went on to thank the support that his team received from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), Margueritaville, Centennial's MiPhone brand, Quashi and the Ministry of Local Government Development and Sport.