THE sixth renewal of the Jamaica Surfing Association/MAKKA PRO surfing tournament set for Southaven Beach in St Thomas from July 20-22 promises to be even bigger and better this year, says organiser Billy Wilmot.
The veteran reggae musician, who was speaking at the launch of the event at the Knutsford Court Hotel on Monday, said more international surfers have already registered for this year's tournament and he's expecting an even larger spectator turn out as well.
However, Wilmot added that the event, which is also sanctioned by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), is a unique tourism opportunity for the island and it should be
"We are expecting much more people to come out and seek business opportunities, which will be a chance to earn something from the two-day activity.
"Plus we are also expecting more turnout from the community and more press attention," he told the Jamaica Observer.
Wilmot said he was also looking for more participants, both local and international, this year and he is expecting the locals to show the strides they have made in surfing to their international counterparts.
"In the space of one year, most of our surfers have made quite a bit of improvement, so we are looking to see some good performances from our local surfers... but they will face some stiff competition," he said.
Of the 32 available spaces for the Open event, six Venezuelans, five Americans, nine regional and five other surfers from various parts of the globe, have already registered.
"So we are already approaching a full roster for the Open Men's Division... the Junior Division (24 surfers) and the Female Division (maximum eight surfers),"
Wilmot, also an actor of Royal Palm Estate fame, said surfing was slowly becoming another option for our sports men and women and he thinks it's another door through which our young people can excel.
Meanwhile, former Open champion Icah Wilmot, the son of Billy, is hoping to reclaim the top prize he won back in 2010 but he believes it will be very hard.
"The competition is going to be really stiff, a lot of really good surfers are coming... so it's going to be an intense contest," he said.
However, he thinks that if he is to win the event he will also need some good fortune.
"There is a lot of luck in surfing, because every wave is different and you don't must catch the best wave...
so you're lucky if you catch the best waves, but even so you also have to have the skills to perform your best on the waves you select," Icah said.
Meanwhile, planning secretary for the Southaven Citizens' Association, Janet Harrison, said the entertainment package also promises a lot this year as they will have cultural dances and vintage artists on show after the surfing ends the Sunday.