Both are excellent scholars and equally good on jet skis. But this is a case of the pupil and the teacher.
One is a seasoned campaigner at the top of his game; the other one has just burst on the scene, making waves and leaving a lasting impression. Yet they’re both still teenagers.
When the 2009 edition of the East End Surf Challenge kicks off to a roaring start on Heroes Day, Monday 26 January, the eyes of spectator and competitor alike will be on Corey Miller and Jordan ‘JJ’ McLean. And with good reason.
The pair come with brain and brawn on the jet skis.
Miller, 18, is a freshman at Florida International University where he is studying mechanical engineering on a CUC scholarship. This 2006 graduate of the Cayman Prep & High School achieved 14 external examinations, including three at ‘A’ Level.
McLean, 19, has shown himself to be no slouch at the books, and has begun his senior year at the University of South Florida where he is majoring in accounting. He is a 2005 graduate of the John Gray High School where he gained 12 passes in external examinations.
However, in a couple of weeks Miller and McLean, hope to engineer their way to victory while always giving a good account of their ability.
Miller is a slim youngster with an infectious smile, who credits JJ with a lot of his success. And a lot of success he has already on his resume.
He first hit the water as a competitor last year at the Wes-Tech event, placing second in the Modified Class. That was a portent of things to come as he rode away with a huge clutch of trophies in last year’s Surf Challenge.
Miller copped first place in the Modified Class, took Rookie of the Year honours and capped his haul with the coveted Nayaman trophy, awarded to the rider who is most competitive and sporting whose team exhibits most spirit, efficiency and teamwork.
Then, in last year’s Jet Around Cayman, Miller showed he was no fluke when he was named Top Rookie in the June classic.
He can’t help but smile as he glances across at his friend, who will be his foe once the starter takes control on January 26.
‘The sport looked like fun, it was on the water and I saw the success that JJ was having, so that kind of pushed me along to try my luck,’ he says.
‘I’ve always liked the water and there was a lot of excitement about it, so I decided to give it a shot and everything has turned out well. I have to give a lot of credit to JJ because he was kind of my coach when it came to learning the tricks of the East End waters.’
And what might those tricks be? ‘Can’t say. It’s a little secret that we can’t let everybody else know about,’ Miller smiles.
That’s true, but his friend comes loaded with credentials that could best him come race day.
McLean is the defending JAC champion, beating 20-plus riders. He had suffered mechanical problems and couldn’t finish the 2007 race, so 2008 was extra sweet.
However, he has won the Modified Class in the EESC (2005) and also won the 2006 Tony’s Toys Wavefest Modified Class. The next year he finished second.
A self-confessed ‘gym rat’ McLean is all arms and legs at 6ft 4ins who began his aquatic ventures on sailboats with family members.
‘I liked it a lot, but that was a little too slow,’ he says. ‘It’s exciting to race. There’s an element of danger to the sport, but it’s a lot of fun and I’m a very competitive person.’
George ‘Lulu’ Smith, a past EESC winner, is one opponent the pair will keep a close eye on. Miller will be on the look out for all comers as well, but Roshad Goff will attract a lot of his attention. He has had to watch him cross the finish line in the past.
McLean and Miller are quick to credit any success they achieve to the support from their parents, but come race day it will be man and machine against man and machine and the elements. Then we will know if the warrior aboard Tryin’ a Ting will carry the USF colours across the line and if Miller’s Naut’ Waukin’ machine will be working at peak performance.
Until then, they lie low and wait for the Challenge.
Race Day is the culmination of a weekend loaded with attractions galore. Starting on Friday 23 January there is the Total Togetherness concert from 9pm to 2am, featuring Smoke from Renaissance Disco out of Jamaica, DJ Von, Atom Force and Selecta Renegade. The next two days are dominated by sailboats when the Capt. Leroy Watson regatta, in memory of the late East End master mariner, is contested.
Then comes race day which also sees the Flowers Bottled Water Fish Tea Cookoff.
The 2009 East End Surf Challenge is sponsored by CayCompass.com, What’s Hot Magazine, Flowers Bottled Water, Massive Equipment Rentals, Naya Wear, First Impressions, Plants & Things Nursery, Derms Equipment, Cayman Concrete Pumping, Winner’s Circle Sports, Coconut Car Rentals, Massive, Automotive Art, Hot 104.1 FM and Morritt’s Tortuga.
For more information on the East End Surf Challenge, go to: www.surfchallenge.ky.