Those of you out there aiming to take the Digicel East End Surf Challenge crown from Vance Ramgeet better beware: he still has a lot to prove!
The defending overall champion says he is well aware that his opponents will be coming harder and stronger on race day 23 January 2006, and he is gearing his preparation to counteract such moves.
‘My entire mental posture is different this year. Now I’m thinking in terms of proving that 2005 wasn’t a fluke. So I’ve begun to get ready much earlier, starting in October in order to be more race ready,’ says the slender champion.
Ramgeet plans to be astride the same craft which powered him to victory in 2005, even though there will be a little modification in order to gain that bit extra little speed. He’s also a bit unusual in that his training is done on the same craft which he uses on race day. Ask him why and he’ll tell you it’s just the way he goes about his work.
‘I’m spending more time in practice now, up to four sessions monthly, with each session lasting as long as six hours. My teammates on Good2Go are also a tremendous help as they are keeping an eye on me and offering suggestions,’ Ramgeet explains.
And just what does the overall kingpin need to work on?
‘Well, last year a lot of my success came because I was willing to take the risk of running well on the inside in shallow water next to the reef. I’m working on doing even more of that, and to hit the turns even tighter. No question that it’s a gamble; there’s high risk and reward, but it’s the way I choose to go, and 2006 will be no different.’
Ramgeet is also doing more mental preparation. Certainly, one has to be ready and put in the pounding work on his craft, but he’s using the visioning technique which many performers swear by as a factor in their success. ‘There are times when I will spend up to a couple of hours on the beach just looking out on the water, visualizing the race seeing my opponents, taking the turns encountering the waves and hopefully coming home with my craft in front,’ he grins.
His opponents are never far away from Vance Ramgeet’s mind, and he’s never lost track of those who would steal his glory. In this he finds extra motivation.
‘I want them all to be at their best, and to beat them there. In 2005 (runner-up) Billy Ebanks had some mechanical problems, even though he had great results, and the thing with Billy is that he’s not named Billy the Kid for nothing. The man is fearless and always a challenge. As for Jason Smith, if he is at the line come race day, then he can never be overlooked. Jason has vast experience, he’s always in peak condition and I have to be realistic about last year. Jason wasn’t able to use the craft he originally planned to race; there was a problem with getting the right type of fuel for it, so we are left to wonder what would have happened.’
Now if you think that the champ is downplaying his achievements, think again. This is vintage Ramgeet: modest, unassuming and even fragile looking at times to the point where his spectacles belie his intensity. Remember that one Clark Kent and he had some ‘super’ results!
‘There’s another rider that spectators should look out for, and that Jeremy Thompson. He impresses me very much and he rides a very good craft. So I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’ll be ready,’ Ramgeet affirms.
It’s said in sports that to be the man you have to beat the man, and that’s the advantage a champion invariably takes with him to the arena. While Ramgeet is looking at his opponents’ repertoire, on the other hands they will have their hands full with what he is bringing to the dance as well.
‘In jet-ski racing you’re only as good as your craft, and just a second away from some mechanical problem, but all things being considered, I’ve confidence in my craft. There is plenty of speed; my opponents will have to deal will my ability to maneuver the water and I will be asking the question again this year as to how much are they willing to risk in the shallow water near the reef at East End. I believe strongly that will be a key on race day,’ Ramgeet states.
The gauntlet has been thrown. Now we wait for 23 January for the answers to be supplied.