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'Reggae Surfers' finish 10th at World Masters
Keisha Hill, Staff Reporter
Jamaica's master surfers placed 10th from a field of 17 nations at the 2008 World Masters Surfing Championship held in Lima, Peru. The team, which returned to the island yesterday, competed against the likes of world surfing giants Australia, Mexico, Sweden, Guatemala and Argentina.
The event saw competition in five divisions. Team Jamaica consisted of masters Drum Drummond and Eugene Miller, grand masters Michael Mair and Nigel Benjamin, kahunas Billy Wilmot and Pierre Diaz, grand kahuna Terrence Muschett and women's master Jacquiann Lawton. Jamaica's best performances came from Drummond, Miller, Mair, Diaz and Muschett who all advanced through the first three rounds. Team Jamaica were knocked out in the final round prior to the semi-finals.
Compared to last year's inaugural tournament in Puerto Rico where Jamaica finished ninth from 13 teams, president of the Jamaica Surfing Association, Billy Wilmot, stated that under the extreme weather conditions Jamaica still perform favourably well.
"The waves were close to 20 feet and the water was extremely cold. Many surfers from other teams did not turn up for heats on the bigger days because of the weather conditions," Wilmot said.
Wilmot indicated that Brazil, who placed third, had beaten them last year but had assembled a much stronger team this year and as a result Jamaica slipped to 10th place in the world standings.
Ecuador and the United Kingdom who were ahead of Jamaica last year were relegated to 12th and 14th place respectively.
"Overall I believe that we could have done even better than we did," Wilmot stated. "The conditions were very difficult with large waves and strong currents, conditions that we don't have very often in Jamaica."
Wilmot further stated that the Jamaican surfers did not understand the conditions, which led to uncertainty and loss of self-confidence for Jamaica and other teams that participated in the championship.
"The type of equipment used on larger waves is specifically designed to handle those conditions and are not practical for use in smaller surf. We do not get to fine tune our big wave board designs. Compared to many other teams, our surfers do not get enough experience in big surf," Wilmot concluded.