Inilek Wilmot 

The first event of the Jamaica Surfing Association’s 2009 National Open Series kicked off at the Lighthouse surfing beach along the Port Royal Main Road on Saturday 31st of January. Top Jamaican surfer Inilek Wilmot, Brother of 2008 National Open Champ Icah Wilmot, walked away with the 1000 points on offer for the win and now leads the points race in the five event series which climaxes in December.

Twenty one surfers registered for the event which saw 4 first round heats that narrowed the field to the top twelve for the semi final round where two heats of six determined who would go on to the 6 man final.

The first semi-final was stacked with hot surfers. Luke Williams, Icah and Inilek Wilmot, Jason Pusey, Michael Panton and Ronley Lewis paddled out to try and get the two best waves in the fifteen minute heat. They managed to ride 32 waves between them with the highest scoring wave given by the judges being 8.1 out of 10. When the time expired Luke Icah and Inilek advanced to the final

The second semi final saw an equally impressive line up paddle out to do battle. Ackeam Phillips, Shane Simmonds, Eneson Lightbourn, Garren Pryce, Conrad Smith and Dwayne Tracey all paddled out into the 5’ waves. The Judges had their work cut out for them as the surfers caught and rode 38 waves in the 15 minute heat with the highest scoring wave being 8.5 out of 10. The spray settled and Ackeam. Shane and Eneson advanced to the final.

The final was a nail biting affair with all the surfers doing very well. Forty one waves were ridden in the heat with a 9.0 being awarded for one of the ridden waves. The lead changed hands a number of times with the crowd on the beach voicing their obvious approval for every well ridden wave. The Judges were under pressure as Jamaica’s best surfers went at it for twenty minutes. The final horn sounded and it was left up o the judges score cards. Inilek First, Shane second, Icah third, Luke fourth Ackeam fifth and Eneson sixth.

“The waves were excellent….” Said JSA President Billy Wilmot, “… and the standard of surfing displayed by the competitors was truly impressive.”

The next event in the 2009 series will be held on Saturday February 28 2009 at the MAKKA surfing Beach, Southaven Yallahs Saint Thomas beginning at 9:00am. The public is invited.

Below are the final results of the first event of the National Open Series

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Adam Melling

Adam Melling (Lennox Head/NSW) signalled his intentions loud and clear for the 2009 season by taking a huge win at the Rip Curl MP Classic held in excellent 1.5m (5ft) barrelling high performance surf at Coolangatta Beach today.

Melling was rated 35 on the ASP World Series last year and was always in contention to qualify for the elite ASP World Tour but didn’t quite finish the season off in Hawaii. This year he wants to erase the disappointments of last year and today’s winning start to his competitive year indicates he’ll be a serious contender.

“I haven’t competed for a few months since returning from Hawaii in 2008 and I was really looking forward to dusting off the cobwebs and getting back competitively here and that’s how it has panned out – I couldn’t be happier right now, my boards are great, fitness and injuries all good and to win in such excellent surf in this event is super great – It’s a special event named after an extraordinary surfer.”

Regardless of today’s win, Melling is focused on the big picture for the season and added “ This year is all about a top 10 finish on the ASP World Series and qualifying for the elite World Tour – I was devastated to get close last year and not get there so I’m really focused for this season to give it my absolute best.”

Melling’s final two wave scores today were a 9.4 and an excellent 8.5 to easily take the final on a total of 17.9 with Gold Coast surfer Ice Pierera – Ryan (Coolangatta) coming in second on a scoreline of 15.8.

NSW surfers Matt Wilkinson (Central Coast) placed 3rd on 14.5 and Stuart Kennedy (Lennox Head) placed 4th on 13.6.

Michael Peterson, accompanied by his mother, sat in the judging tower to watch all the days action. Peterson commented on the surfing and  surf, in reference to the sand pumping saying “It was fantastic to watch all these surfers performing so well – they were all ripping out there – The waves were good but definitely not as good as they should be or as good as I remember surfing them… There’s poor sand build up out there and the waves have chunky sections.. it’s not as perfect as it used to be – it should be barrelling all the way through to Kirra and further.” 

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Ryan Hipwood 

Two months remain in the yearlong period for the Ninth Annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards and a swag of Australia’s top riders are well in contention.

The $USD 130,000 Billabong XXL Awards are the Oscars of big wave riding, with eligibility open to big wave surfers at every break around the globe during the one-year contest window.

The event closes at the end of the Northern Hemisphere winter on March 20, followed by the award ceremony in California on April 17, where the gladiators of big wave riding meet. 

West Australian Damien “Taco” Warr is among a host of Aussie daredevils leading the way for XXL contention after tackling a monster ride at a secret offshore location on the West Australian coast.  Warr’s ride, currently entered in the $USD 15,000 Biggest Wave Category, is over 50ft (15m) tall on the face, similar to a five story building, and was tackled in April of 2008.

“The conditions were perfect that day, the wind was light offshore, the sun was out and it was the first swell of the year so there was no one else around,” said Warr.  “I remember going across the ocean heading out to the reef, which is about 3km off shore and from side on we were watching these monstrous waves breaking top to bottom.”

“I jumped straight off the ski when we got out there and as we were making our way out to the take off zone, a series of sets came through. We let the first set pass and the second one was just absolutely huge,” he said.  “It was the biggest wave I had ridden by far and at the time I didn’t realise just how big it was because I hadn’t surfed out there for a year and a half.”

“You are so focused on what is going on at the time that everything around you is a bit of a mind blank you are just so intent on making the wave and making sure it doesn’t land on your head.”

“I would hate to think what a lip like that landing on you would do to your body.”

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