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The problems of Surfing in Jamaica


Yesterday I came across a wonderful article from Surfer.com in which they interview Ivah Wilmott to speak about the future of Jamaican Surfing. Wilmott is the president of the Jamaican Surfing Association and he speaks about the impact of the SURFER magazine trip to Jamaica and how, years later, the Gudauskas brothers brought 200 second hand surfboards for the Jamaican locals. 

This gift to Jamaican surfers is going to be remembered and acknowledged everytime anyone dares to speak about the history of surfing in Jamaica, because as Wilmott says: “It had a huge effect. Now it feels like we have a lot more high-performance surfers in Jamaica than before. As you know it’s hard to get boards here-you either have to bring them in yourselves or have people bring some when they are visiting. But with all those boards from surfboard drive, now there are kids with potential who just need to be groomed a little more and shown what they’re doing wrong. ”

The Brothers Gudauskas are teaming up with Jamnesia, led by the inimitable Billy “Mystic” Wilmot, to provide boards for underprivileged children in Jamaica. Photo: Ellis

Jamaica is a third-world country, an island situated in the Caribbean Sea. It used to belong to Great Britain until they got their independence in 1962. Since then, crime rates have increased from 3.9 per 100,000 inhabitants (one of the lowest in the world in 1962), to 62 per 100,000 inhabitants (One of the highest in the world in 2009). Ivah Wilmott knows this perfectly well, and his work on jamaican kids, especially in Kingston (900,000 population aprox.) has been spectacular. As he said, bringing boards to the island is quite difficult, let apart being able to buy them, as Jamaica has a GDP per capita of 9,200 Dollars.

This is why Wilmott feels responsible for the future of Surfing in Jamaica: “Yea for sure. The surf community is so small in Jamaica and if no one does anything, then nothing happens for surfing. Like when I’m in California, it feels like you can sit back and be apart of a culture that’s been thriving for over 50 years. But here, the surf culture is very new and there are a few key players in it.”

As we can see, money, poverty, location and crime play against the surfing future of Jamaica, but Wilmott is doing his best to change this. If you want a complete guide on where to surf in Jamaica, take a look at this article. And if you’d like to learn to surf before going to Jamaica, come and try our Surf School in Tenerife.  You can also learn how to DONATE some dollars or euros to Wilmott’s project in Jamaica.

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