Ben Bourgeois attempts to get the
Jamaican surf team into the Olympics
BEN BOURGEOIS HAS SPENT MUCH OF HIS LIFE TRAVELING THE WORLD AS A PROFESSIONAL SURFER.
His numerous accolades, competitive acumen, Waves for
Water philanthropy, and international surfing fame have
earned him a well-deserved legendary status in his home-town
of Wrightsville Beach.
As of late, the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame inductee
had been enjoying continued travels and opening a surf
resort in the Dominican Republic. Then, seemingly out of
the deep ocean blue, Bourgeois was tapped to be the head
coach for the Jamaican Surf Team. He has coached the team
in one international competition and is trying to make sure
Jamaica is represented on the sport’s grand entrance into the
Olympic Games, now scheduled for July 23 - August 8 in
Japan. Surfing events will take place July 25 - August 1 at
Tsurigasaki Beach, 62 miles from Tokyo.
Bourgeois first traveled to Jamaica in the late '90s on a
Surfer Magazine photo trip with other pros, and it became one
of his favorite destinations. Bourgeois formed a bond with
Jamaican surfing patriarch Billy Wilmot.
“Ever since that first trip as a young man, I have been
friends with the Wilmots. I had gone back a few times and
just loved it every time. It had great waves and I became closer
with the family,” Bourgeois states.
B Y P E T E R V I E L E
WBM june 2021
AFTER YEARS OF VISITS TO THE ISLAND NATION and developing friendships, Bourgeois was asked to coach the
up-and-coming Jamaican surfers in the 2019 International Surfing Association’s Pan
American Games in Peru, where he had competed several times and even earned gold
for the United States.
Opposite: Wrightsville Beach native Ben Bourgeois catches a wave at Lighthouse, a popular surf
spot in Jamaica. Bourgeois was tapped to be head coach of Jamaica’s national surf team. Above:
Team members Icah Wilmot, Garren Pryce, Shama Beckford and Shane Fyah gather around their
coach at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru.
COURTESY OF BEN BOURGEOIS