The Makka Beach in New Haven, St Thomas, was the location for the first event of 2023 for the Jamaica Surfing Association (JSA) following the opening League qualifiers last Saturday

Elishama Beckford was in top form, as he turned on the style to impress the judges and secured the men’s open title after racking up 1,000 points to lead the 16-man field.

Javaun Brown was also impressive on the day, chalking up 870 points to finish in second place. Third place went to Daniel Mattis, who got a total score of 730, with Blake Burnett rounding out the top four with a score of 670.

National representative Ackeam Phillips found the going a bit tough and ended in fifth place, while his national teammate Ronald Hastings had an even more difficult outing, rattling up 500 points to end the event tied for ninth place.

Beckford, who will be heading off to California shortly to continue his training and preparation for the International Surfing Association’s World Surfing Games in El Salvador in May, said he was pleased to get the first win of the year under his belt, with five more qualifiers to come.

“It’s a very good feeling to start the year with a win. The waves weren’t ideal, but sometimes you go places around the world where you have to perform in these conditions, so it’s good to get acquainted and see what equipment works best.”

In the meantime, Zoe Bain took the women’s equivalent after racking up 1,000 points. She was followed by Aimi Gordon in second place with 870, Imani Wilmot finished third with 730, and Zuri Gordon fourth with 670.

President of the JSA Inilek Wilmot said the organisation decided to start the season earlier in order to capitalise on the conditions which tend to be more favourable this time of year.

“Surfing is all about the weather and what the sea gives you, so we give thanks that we got good weather, even though the waves were not of the size we would like. Sometimes the team goes away and gets smaller waves than this, so it’s good for our local surfers to compete in challenging conditions.”

The Jamaica Surf League will continue on February 8 with qualifier two at Boston Bay in Portland.

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