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Inilek Wilmot, Elim Beckford nab first surfing event
Inilek Wilmot and Elim Beckford had to pull all the stops to capture the first event in the Jamaica Surfing Association's (JSA) 2007 National Open Series held at the Lighthouse Surfing Beach on Saturday.
Nineteen surfers registered to compete in the men's open division including one US citizen who was visiting the island.
All the top names were in action. The Wilmot brothers Ishack, Inilek and Icah, Luke Williams, who had won all his heats enroute to the final. National Junior champion Ackeam Phillips and National Junior team member Eneson Lightbourn.
With a 25 knot onshore wind whipping the sea, the surfers had their work cut out for the entire afternoon. The surfer with the best 2 scoring waves in twenty minutes (maximum of 10) would be the victor.
A total of 23 waves were ridden in the 20 minute heats. Ishack Wilmot had no luck and could not find his flow and though he rode four waves, the best two were only good enough for sixth.
Luke Williams had been on a roll winning all his previous heats and started strongly with two solid waves, but on his third wave, he was adjudged to have interfered with Icah Wilmot and this second best wave was cut in half relegating him to fifth.
Eneson Lightbourn performed credibly and showed much improvement. He rode five waves and his best two gave him fourth.
Junior champion Ackeam Phillip was patient and selected a couple of the bigger waves that gave him something to work with. He rode three waves and his best two, placed him in third.
Icah Wilmot, who is recovering from a broken femur, was not quite back to his best, but was still able to get two early high scoring waves. He got four waves but his first two were strong enough for second.
Defending champion Inilek Wilmot was the man of the moment with some excellent wave selections. He scored the highest waves of the heat and although he only managed to get three waves, the first when combined with his third pushed him ahead of the field giving him the primary slot and the 1,000 points on offer in the five event series.
In the ladies final, Elim Beckford, Imani Wilmot and Danielle Ohayon faced off for the points. But due to the windy conditions, their heat was relocated to the Copa Surfing Beach in Bull Bay, St Thomas.
The ladies paddled out in overhead waves and slogged it out for 20 minutes. Ohayon had trouble finding the waves and missed a few chances and her best two waves were only good enough for third.
Imani Wilmot, the defending national champion got a few waves but her selection was weak and did not catch the waves with good scoring potential and finished second. Beckford had a good day in the water with the better waves seeming to just come to her. She caught a beauty and after executing a beautiful bottom turn she did a snap turn off the top and finished with a cutback.
That along with her second best wave was all she needed to catapult her to the lead where she finished and collected the 1,000 points on offer.
The next event in the series will be held at Makka surfing beach South Haven, Yallahs, St Thomas on Saturday March 17 beginning at 8:00am.
Place Open women points
1 Elim Beckford 1000
2 Imani Wilmot 860
3 Danielle Ohayon 730
Place Open men points
1 Inilek Wilmot 1000
2 Icah Wilmot 860
3 Ackeam Phillips 730
4 Eneson Lightbourn 670
5 Luke Williams 610
6 Ishack Wilmot 583
7 Toni (U.S.A.) 555
7 Joel Lawrence 555
9 Eugene Miller 500
9 Michael Panton 500
11 Shane Simmonds 475
11 Jason Pusey 475
13 Gawain Galimore 450
13 Omar Jacks 450
13 Junior Hibbert 450
16 Richard Curtis 413
16 Ronley Lewis 413