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Surf's up at the 'forgotten end'
Keisha Hill, Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT OF the Jamaica Surfing Association (JSA), Billy Wilmot, believes surfing is a viable tourism entity waiting to be developed at the eastern end of the island.
"Surfing is an aspect of sport that Jamaica has been missing the boat on," Wilmot said.
"The eastern end of the island is traditionally referred to as the forgotten end, but it is here that the best surfable waves are found that far outweigh even the eastern seaboard of the US, which tourists tend to gravitate to," he said.
Wilmot was speaking after the JSA's fourth event of the five-event National Open Championship series held at the Lighthouse Surfing Beach along the Palisadoes peninsula on Saturday.
According to Wilmot, the waves are better for surfing and the water much warmer in comparison to the cold waters of the eastern seaboard of the U.S.
Based on the consistent popularity of the sport in recent years, surfing, if properly established, could attract more visitors to the island and improve the tourism infrastructure of the east, Wilmot stated.
Twenty-nine surfers registered for Saturday's event, which saw competition in the men's and women's Open divisions.
The event saw surfers compete in 11 heats in four rounds of eliminations.
The men's semi-final round saw Shane Simmons, Inilek Wilmot, Icah Wilmot, Lloyd Jacks and Eneson Lightbourne facing off for 15 minutes for one of the three spots up for grabs in the final.
Twenty-seven waves were ridden with Simmons getting the best two and the win. Inilek was hot on his heels finishing second with his younger brother, Icah, in third as all three advanced to the final.
The second semi-final heat saw a four man face-off between Ishack Wilmot, Luke Williams, Ackeam Phillips and Michael Panton for the two remaining spots in the final. Ishack and Williams dominated the heat and advanced to the final with Panton finishing third and Ackeam fourth.
In the final round, Inileck won ahead of Williams with Simmons third and Icah, fourth.
In the women's final, Danielle Ohayon, Imani Wilmot, Ester Beckford and Elim Beckford participated in 20 waves between them. Ohayon narrowly held on to win first from Imani. Ester was third and Elim, fourth.
The JSA president was pleased with the surfers' performances and was elated that the sport had now become an option that young person could become involved in.
"The feeling is good as the performances have helped to fulfil part of our mandate to propularise the sport," Wilmot said.
The race is now on for the National Open title to be held at Boston Beach in Portland on Saturday, December 22, starting at 9:00 a.m.