Hielman in dream debut at MAKKA PRO event
FIRST-TIME entrant Jessie Heilman held off defending champions and countrymen Jensen Callaway and Nils Schweizer to win the sixth MAKKA PRO Men's Open Surfing Championship at Southaven Beach in St Thomas on Sunday.
The American scored 15.77 points to top the event over Schweizer, who had 14.44, and outgoing champion Callaway, who scored 14.14 for third.
Heilman was very pleased to have got the better of rivals Schweizer and Callaway.
"We battle all the time. Nils had one on me and Jensen had one on me as well, so it was good to get one back," he said.
Meanwhile, Barbadians Chelsea Tuach and Dane Mackie emerged Female and Junior champions, and both were pleased with their success.
Tuach, who won the tournament in 2010 but did not defend her title last year, reclaimed the trophy after scoring 13.10 points to beat another Barbadian, Chelsea Roett (11.87) into second place and American Chelsea Graham (7.94) into third.
Mackie scored 16.44 to to the Junior segment over American Nathan Behl (15.40) and Jamaica's Elishame Beckford, who was island's top finisher with 14.33.
Many-time female winner Tuach was happy to reclaim her title after a year's absence.
"The waves were great for the final. I got some good ones... but there was a time when we were not getting good waves so it was a challenge, but I just did my best surfing out there and I won," she said.
Mackie, who was also a first-time entrant, said he stuck to his game plan and things worked out well for him.
"I tried to do what I normally do and it worked," he said.
The two surfers believe their victory was a testament of the surfing potential now thriving in their country.
"It was great, another Bajan won and this shows that we are coming really strong and making a name for ourselves," Tuach said.
Mackie added that Barbados has a lot of up-and-coming surfers who are doing well on the regional and international scenes.
Meanwhile, event organiser William 'Billy' Wilmott said it was another successful staging and the event continue to grow each year. However, he believes lack of experience was the downfall of the local surfers this year.
"When it came to the quarter and semi-finals, the waves were very small... and those who had a lot more experience surfing in less than perfect conditions were able to excel, while our surfers faded out," he analysed.