Tony’s riding on mixed emotions

The East
End Surf Challenge really came of age on Monday, it’s tenth anniversary, but
not without drama.

People from all over Cayman and the
region came down for East End’s showpiece event, fittingly on Heroes’ Day and
apart from a couple of hiccups, things went well.

Jet ski racing can be incredibly
dangerous if proper safety measures are not taken and when in the first race
there was a mishap with Jason Bush crashing, the race schedule had to wait for
him to be attended to.

Bush was taken to George Town
Hospital by ambulance for a gash around an eye which needed a few stitches.

He turned out fine and definitely
did not have a broken jaw as was being said on the rumour mill.

Bush rides for Tony’s Toy and it
was his team-mate in the modified class, Andrew Ebanks, who won.

There was more theatre before the
start of the second race. Tony’s Toys – last year’s top team who had seven
riders in total – complained that a part of the course at Heritage Field was
unsafe because of exposed rocks.

The race officials placed a safety
boat and warning flag beside the rocks but when the pro class race was ready to
start, the three Tony’s Toys riders – George ‘Lulu’ Smith, Roshad Goff and Darren
Ebanks – were not there.

Race marshal Tony Coe deliberated
for a while and then decided to start it anyway with the other five riders
patiently waiting.

Tony’s Toys team manager Antonio
Smith then called his riders, mechanics and helpers and collectively they
decided to pull out of the event completely.

Smith said that he did not want his
riders to go to the start too early because too much water would have gone into
the engine.

Smith said: “My riders were the
ones who complained about the rocks being unsafe. One of the marshals, Honey
Gee, came over and said it was getting fixed but before my three riders could
get to the starting line they started without us.

“I wasn’t going to go to the
officials to argue, so I called my team together and they felt that it didn’t
make sense to continue. We couldn’t win the team event now anyway and we didn’t
want to disturb the event by arguing so we walked out peacefully. We’re not
troublemakers.

“They had no intention to re-run
the race for us even though they could have given us a call for the start.”

Coe felt that the Tony’s Toys
riders were deliberately stalling getting to the start line just to unsettle
the others. It was won by Seth Watler. Other winners included Nicholas Hyde.

Coe said: “We have rules and
guidelines and when Tony’s Toys pointed out the dangerous rocks that was
attended to. The race was further held up because a boat was on the course, so
they did have ample time to get to the start with the others.

“I think they were deliberately
procrastinating just to upset the other riders. If they had a problem with
their jet skis, they didn’t tell me, I’m not a mind reader. I could have given
them all the time in the world.

“I had to start the race at some
point, the crowd was waiting and I consider myself to be a very reasonable
person. Sometimes you have to pay the price for being nice.

“They were using strategy to get an
edge. They can’t bend the rules to suit themselves. They have too many issues.”

Shane ‘Nobee’ Edwards was the Surf
Challenge chief organiser and is managing director of the 2Frenzied team.

“They didn’t have to pull out the
riders from the modified class as well. We didn’t do them nothing,” said
Edwards.

“Racers here have big egos which
they should put aside and show good sportsmanship.

“You can’t say that you’re part of
an association promoting the positive side of racing and then take your team
and walk out for no good reason.”

Despite the boycott and Bush’s
minor accident, Edwards was proud that the historic tenth staging of the event
was a success.

As well as Flowers Bottled Water
who sponsored the Fish Tea Challenge won by East End Steel, sponsors included
Red Bull, Caymanian Compass, What’s Hot, First Impression, Maedac, Hot FM,
Cayman Screen Print, Morritt’s, Massive and Naya Wear.

All the more exciting for Edwards
was that LIME came in at the last minute as a sponsor.

Great music was provided by Selecta
Renegade, Eternal Vibes and House Arrest. To mark the occasion entrance was
free and the only real income was from selling the event t-shirt for $10.

Some glamour and beauty was also
provided by the models from Lisa Lee Productions who put on their traditional
fashion show to raise temperatures even higher.

“Despite the recession and not much
cash from the sponsors, we were able to put on a good show with cash prizes at
a good venue,” Edwards added. “I’m pleased with that. It was important to have
all the necessary safety measures in place and we did an excellent job with
that. This was great for our culture and heritage too.

“It was overall a very positive
thing with over 2,000 in attendance. I’m also pleased that there was no trouble,
not one argument.”

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