Surf’s up

The arena is ready.

Their proving ground lies in the deep blue Caribbean Sea.

Each warrior checks his equipment – a streamlined combination of power, colour and efficiency. The preliminaries are over; man and machine are primed for the battle ahead. The prize they seek is glory and each racer is prepared to go to the limit to achieve it.

Soon the dawn will come. Then it will be Heroes Day, and before it has passed someone will prove have proven himself worthy of that accolade.

Hearts pound in chests; parents give their final hugs and girlfriends their final kisses. Somewhere in the distance someone raises the peace treaty high; then rips it to shreds.

Friendships are suspended. Now all that remains is to wage war.

This is conquest on the high seas.

This is Heroes Day weekend and it’s time for the East End Surf Challenge.

The clock is ticking.

In less than 72 hours the 2005 Digicel East End Surf Challenge comes to pass at the Heritage Field beach in East End, and 11 riders are set to compete for some $5,000 in cash and prizes in addition to the glory.

The following riders and teams will square off Monday at 10am:

(8) Jason Smith-Barely Legal

(16) Vance Ramgeet-Good To Go

(4) Ricky Parsons-Barely Legal

(72) Craig Smith-Wes-Tec

(11) William ‘Billy The Kid’ Ebanks-Wes-Tec

(78) Mark Bothwell-Wes-Tec

(45) Jordan McLean-Trinating

(69) Eduardo Gourzong-Blue Lightning

(97) Leron Whittaker-Chaos

(94) Chad Whittaker-Chaos

(96) Chuck Whittaker-Chaos

The sleepy little seaside village of East End plays host to this event, now a fixture on the jet ski calendar and a major prep for June’s Jet Around Cayman. However, the weekend is a total package of music and racing with a very spicy dash of culture.

Organiser Shane Edwards is gearing his efforts at bringing the community together in light of the fact that popular events such as the Pirates Week District Day and the Christmas Bonfire were cancelled in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in September.

The ‘Total Togetherness’ fete kicks off the weekend’s activities tonight at 7 on the Heritage Field and features the powerhouse vibes of Renaissance Disco from Jamaica, Eternal Vibes out of Miami and Vibe DJ’s Jazzy B and Docta. The latter then joins Renaissance on Monday to serve up a baptism of music, with the ‘baddest’ DJ, John the Baptist, headlining the show.

The Fish Tea Cookoff, which proved such a hit last year is back on Monday as well. In 2005, Flowers is again sponsoring the event, and fans will have an opportunity to choose which cook stirs up the top Tea. Each one entering the gate will be stamped, making them eligible to cast a vote.

Meanwhile, as the cooks do their aromatic thing, man and machine will be doing their best to conquer the course and their opponents. Riders will compete in the Super Stock (faster, heavier machines) and Modified Class over a pre-set buoy course in 3,5,7 and 10-lap tussles.

There is much at stake. Cash and prizes beckon, and the coveted ‘Nayaman’ award, given to the rider who displays the highest overall results, technical skill, sportsmanship, conduct and team presentation.

Last year’s defending Super Stock and Nayaman winner, Jason Smith, will once again be chasing glory, and will in turn be chased by a bunch hungry to stake their claim to fame.

These include Vance Ramgeet, the 2004 Jet Around Cayman and Brac Challenge champion and William ‘Billy The Kid’ Ebanks along with Jordan McLean, who are ready to hit the big time.

A North Side trio of rookies, namely Leron Dilbert, Chad Whittaker and Chuck Whittaker will also be heating it up to try and grab the Rookie of the Year award.

Riders are lavish in their praise of the setting which offers spectators a glorious view of the action up close. The venue is also expected to give clear proof once again of the growing popularity of the sport. The initial Challenge, in 2000, drew a couple of hundred spectators. On Monday, the numbers are expected to reach in the thousands.

Edwards also plans to recognise community persons who have made significant contributions to the recovery efforts in East End on the weekend.

The 2005 Digicel East End Surf Challenge is sponsored by Flowers Bottled Water, Cyberbiz, Ministry of Sports, Joe Tourist, Cayman Airways, Cayman Screen Print, Island Companies, World Gym, Indies Suites, Vibe 98.9 FM, Maedac Supply, Appleton and Heineken.