All roads led to the East End Surf Challenge on Monday and like in previous years it lived up to expectations and was another great event.
People from all over the island converged there and amongst the faces in the crowd were MLA Osbourne Bodden, Bernie Bush and national footballers Benjamin Cupid, Ian Lindo and Carson Fagan.
At the Heritage Field, racers competed in two classes: modified and super stock over a series of three races held for 5, 7 and 10 laps.
Riders had a 45 minute break between races to allow for rest, mechanical adjustment and strategy planning.
A race marshal had the final say over results and disputes and marine police and medical personnel were on stand-by should assistance be required.
Thankfully, they were never needed although a few riders did have mishaps, nobody was seriously hurt.
The two visiting top Americans – Eric Francis and Jonathan Crossaw – were inevitably the fastest in the super stock class with local rider Nathan McLean third. His more experienced brother Jordan, winner of the Jet Around Cayman last year, was fifth.
The prizes included cash and contributions from many sponsors for the winners in both classes as well as awards to the Rookie of the Year and a special Naya Man award was given to the rider who displayed the best sportsmanship and whose team exhibited the best team spirit, co-operation, competitiveness and effort.
That went to Nathan McLean who at 17 looks set for a bright future in jet ski racing if he sticks to it. He fully deserved it, considering when he stopped during a race to help a fellow rider who had fallen off.
East End Surf Challenge sponsors included: Massive, Morritts, Coconut Car Rentals, Winner’s Circle Sports, Automotive Art, cay.compass.com. Hot 104 FM, Plants & Things Nursery, Derms Equipment, Cayman Concrete Pumping and Flowers Bottled Water, which sponsored the Flowers Fish Tea Cookoff.
Cayman Screen Print and First Impression were also sponsors. Announcer Chuck Taylor did another fine job. Music was provided by Selector Renegade, DJ Von and Smoke from Rennaissance Disco.
The Fish Tea competition was won by Michael Whittaker of East End Steelers with Huswell Rankine second and also people’s choice winner. Third was Georgeanne General of G Gee’s Kitchen.
The whole event was the brainchild of Shane ‘Nobee’ Edwards, managing director of the 2Frenzied team.
He was pleased that over 1,000 people attended on Monday and had a great time.
Edwards said: ‘Sports Supply surprised us on the day with their support for the event by supplying a Kawasaki Ultra 250 which was used as a marshal craft. They also provided Oakley goggles and life vests as prizes for the race winners.
‘The Department of Tourism supported the fish tea cook off which was a success. Thanks to them for recognizing a uniquely Caymanian event.
‘It was a great success and I’m happy that the sponsors, including the Caymanian Compass and What’s Hot magazine, supported us.
‘Sports Supply has already committed for next, which says a lot for me, that this is a good community event.
‘I was especially pleased with the sponsorship from First Impression because they are an East End company and they really helped a lot. I’d like to see more East End companies follow the example of the owner Cardell McLaughlin and support this event.
‘The fish tea competition was as popular as ever and the fashion show organised by Lisa Lee Productions went well.
‘It was nice to see Nathan McLean do so well. He is only a teenager but he showed great sportsmanship in his first major race.
‘I’d also like to thank all the race marshals too. They were all from East End and young, aged between 16 and 20. They did a great job and without their help it wouldn’t have worked.
‘To everybody who came and supported the event, thanks for showing East End the love.’