When the Digicel East End Surf Challenge zooms off on Monday, 24 January one youngster who will be looking to make his mark is 15-year-old Jordan McLean.
After all, in his two years of racing, McLean has shown enough potential and his results have been that good that he’s already a serious opponent.
In his first race, the 2003 Jet Around Cayman, he was runner-up in Novice (Rookie) Class; the following year he placed 4th overall in the JAC and when mechanical failure ended his day in the 2004 Surf Challenge, he lay second in the Modified Class.
The achievements haven’t come without mishap, however.
In the 2003 version of the Brac Challenge, he suffered a broken leg when another racer missed a buoy and crashed into his craft. The accident left him shaken, considering that he might not want to race any longer.
‘Really I didn’t feel like continuing, but my cousins (fellow-racers Shane Edwards and Daniel McLain) along with my father (Mack McLean) encouraged me to continue. So here I am and I’m looking for better results this year in East End,’ McLean said.
It was appropriate that he be boosted by Edwards, who encouraged him in the sport initially, introducing him to the craft and the finer points of the game. Now McLean, who does gym work twice a week working on his abs, back, and thighs in anticipation of the pounding surf, could be ready to make his move.
‘I’m racing a Kawasaki STXR 12000 in the Modified Class and I’ve got my eyes on all the riders, but we all know that Jason Smith is at the top of everyone’s list,’ he states. ‘But with me, it’s a matter of going out there, giving it all I’ve got, doing the best I can do.’
Obviously, results are important, but to listen to the John Gray High School student speak, it’s clear that he loves being out on the water, irrespective of the final standings.
‘Oh yes, that rush of adrenaline is something else, and don’t forget that there is no speed limit on the water. Also, this sport has taught me to be more aware, more alert and more responsible because out there a racer, no matter how skilful he is, can lose it all in seconds if the concentration goes.’
McLean admits that he is still learning. He expresses surprise at his result in the 2003 JAC, because he wasn’t physically fit. But now with some races under his belt, the time might be now.
So when he says that this year’s Challenge won’t carry any extra pressure because every day on the water is just another one for him, his opponents surely will not overlook what he brings to the event.
To do so could spell disappointment for them when the results are in.