The Jamaica Surfing Association’s annual Pro Surfing Competition was run this year at the Wreck surfing beach along the Palisadoes peninsula in Kingston for the second year in a row. Dubbed the “Pali Pro” by the organizers, this year’s rendition was treated to a solid 5-foot swell for the two-day affair. Competition was held in Open, Junior, Women and Amateur divisions. There was also an Olympic Rowing component to the event with competition in men’s and women’s divisions. This years event forms part of the selection criteria for Jamaica’s National Olympic Squad.
With competitors from Barbados, the US, Sweden and Jamaica, the event was truly an international affair with a WSL and ISA accredited judging panel under the watchful eye of Mr. Elvis Carter, ISA regional Head Judge, analyzing every ride along the 2-day journey to the declaration of the 2017 champions.
The event was well advertised by a healthy list of media partners and with an increase in the number of sponsors on board, the event seems to be gaining momentum and attracted a much larger turnout of spectators along the famous surfing strip.
The surfing began around 10:30 am daily and continued until 5:00 pm. A number of surfers established dominance from the get go with impressive day one performances coming from Defending Open champ Ackeam Phillips, Bajans Kai Bourne & Ocean Gittens, and local rippers Garren Pryce, Icah Wilmot, Shane Simmonds, Ronley Lewis, Ronald Hastings, and Javaun Brown who were all still in the running going into the final day of competition.
By 2:00 on Sunday afternoon the anticipation on the beach was at fever pitch. Spectators and supporters of the inform surfers made it clear who their choices were with vociferous cheering for their charges every ride. A number of heats stood out. One of the most memorable was open division quarterfinal heat #4 between Boston Bay’s Shane Simmonds and Garren Pryce from Bull Bay which was won by Garren but not after the lead switched hands on almost every exchange. One judge was overheard saying that it was the best heat he had ever witnessed in his extensive judging career.
But it all came down to the finals. The amateur final was an entertaining offering with the group of beginner surfers providing plying their surfing wares to a very appreciative and supportive crowd. Long Bay’s Jonathan Farr walked away with the trophy for the division with Nathan Miller second, Jason Warton third and Nick Robinson in fourth.
The women had themselves a real cat fight of a final in the challenging 4-5 foot waves.At the final horn Imani Wilmot took the winners trophy with her sister-in-law Chrissana getting second. Stephanie Brennan third and Deviene Scott fourth.
Next came the Junior Final which came down to Barbados’ Kai Bourn against Bull Bay’s Ivah Wilmot and Ronald Hastings and Boston Bay’s Javaun Brown. The youngsters really put on a show for the crowd on the beach with an impressive display of Caribbean ripping. When the spray settled the lone Bajan stood atop the heat and collected the Junior Division Trophy. Ivah was second with the Javaun third and Ronald fourth.
The highlight of the weekend was a man-on-man clash between the two Wilmot Brothers as Icah took on his younger sibling Ivah. The exchanges were nail biting to say the least with Icah getting the better of most. Ivah however stayed in close touch until Icah got a sweet wave leaving Ivah needing a 7.6 to take the lead. It looked like Icah was on his way to his fourth championship title but with 30 seconds to go Ivah whipped his board around and took off on a nice wall and executed a couple of spectacular maneuvers to earn an 8.1 from the panel! The beach went wild for the youngest Wilmot as he exited the water. The Press descended on the event champion as they competed for the champions first reaction to his victory.
The awards ceremony was a joyous affair with smiles and cheers all around as trophies and medals were handed out to the finalists in all divisions including the finalists in the Olympic Rowing contest held on harbour side of the spit. After the ceremony the Rum Bar after party kicked in and the drinks and music flowed to the great delight of all present.
The 2017 Pali Pro was a huge success and we all anxiously await the next chapter in Jamaican surfing to unfold!
Sponsors of the event were The Sports Development Foundation, The Jamaica Olympic Association, The Jamaica Surfing Association, The Jamaica Tourist Board, Roark Revival, VANS off the wall, Jamnesia Surf Club, DSE Jamaica, Island Grill, Rum Bar Vodka Classic, Hi-Lyte Sport Drink, News Talk 93 FM, Sun City 104.9 FM and The Release.
- Ivah Wilmot
- Icah Wilmot
- Ackeam Phillips
=3. Garren Pryce
- Kai Bourne
- Ivah Wilmot
- Javaun Brown
- Ronald Hastings
- Imani Wilmot
- Chrissanna Wilmot
- Stephanie Brennan
- Deviene Scott
- Johnathan Farr
- Nathan Miller
- Jason Warton
- Nick Robinson