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Excitement builds for weekend spectacle
Keisha Hill, Staff Reporter
A carnival-like atmosphere will hit the eastern end of the island from July 18-20, as stage three of the 2008 Suzuki Caribbean Surf Network Tour (CSNT), in association with the Jamaica Surfing Association (JSA), glides off at the Makka Surf Beach, Yallahs, St Thomas.
Top surfers from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States will compete against top Jamaicans in the open men, women and junior divisions for a purse of over $400,000.
Competitors will also earn valuable points towards the next Caribbean Challenge Cup Championships.
For the first year, the junior surfers will compete in their own division. Bruce Mackie and Jordan Heaselgreave will lead the charge from Barbados in the juniors category, while Alexis Jordan, the Barbadian 2007 women's champion, will attempt to take her first back-to-back championship in the open women's division. Chelsea Roett and Chelsea Tuach are also gearing up to dethrone Jordan for the open women's title.
Current tour leader, Ametza Nicholls, will not attend the event due to injury, so this leaves Jade Nicholls, last year's overall champion, who now sits third in the league standings, with a great opportunity to take the lead if she is not stopped by Jamaica's Danielle Ohayan, currently ranked second in the tour standings.
In the open men's division, Mark Holder, currently in third place, will look to take the tour lead as the two surfers ahead of him will be unable to attend because of sponsorship commitments.
Thibault Breneol of Guadeloupe and Lewis St. John of Barbados, will have their hands full as they face the highest-ranked Jamaican surfer, Luke Williams.
According to Billy Wilmot, president of the JSA, the surfing community has been mobilised and is fully prepared to host the athletes for the three-day event.
Wilmot stated that, based on predictions, surfers can expect good swells and terrific waves.
"Everything is looking up to be a good weekend. Persons who have arrived already are impressed with the quality of the waves we have on this side of the island," Wilmot said.
Wilmot indicated that with the hosting of the championships, Makka Beach has been recognised as one of the first international surf locations in Jamaica.
"On the weekend, we want to cement it more at that level," he said.
Organisers Christopher Clarke and Nicholas Donawa are expected in the island today, along with a few of the head judges. Other officials and competitors are expected in the island throughout the week as pre-registration for the event starts on Friday.
The surfers will glide into action on Saturday and Sunday.
Following the competition this weekend, the next and final event in the series - the Super Bowl Pro - will be held from September 12-14 at the Super Bowl, Bathsheba, Barbados.
Open Men: Thibault Breneol GLP 1730, Lewis St. John BAR 1610, mark Holder BAR 1340, Bruce Mackie BAR 1285, Luke Williams JAM 1165.
Open Women: Ametza Nicholls BAR 2000, Danielle Ohayon JAM 1530, Chelsea Roett BAR 860, Chelsea Tuach BAR 730.
Juniors: Bruce Mackie BAR 1860, Lewis St. John BAR 1730, Jordan Heaselgrave BAR 1280, Sean Milliene MAR 860, Jesse Jarvis TT 730.