Above and bottom right: Coach Ben Bourgeois observes and records the Jamaican Surf
Team at Makka in Jamaica. Team members Shama Beckford, Icah Wilmot and Garren Pryce
join Bourgeois to review footage.
WBM june 2021
BEN BOURGEOIS BEN BOURGEOIS
THOUGH BOURGEOIS’S HUMBLE, AMIABLE, SOUTHERN DEMEANOR WOULDN’T
ALLOW HIM TO ADMIT THIS, he is often lauded as having one of the most flawless
techniques in modern surfing. So who better to lend a keen eye and critical assessment
to fledgling surfers than the former World Tour veteran and decades-long friend?
“Competing in the ISA Pan Am Games was, still to this day, one of my favorite
competitive experiences,” he says. “To get to represent my country among all the
other countries was amazing and made me feel really proud to be a part of it. It was
really cool that the Jamaican team got to compete and experience that sense of pride
as well, and that I got to be a part of it.”
It was through this natural progression that Bourgeois was asked to coach
the Jamaicans in a qualifying event for the Olympics, scheduled in El Salvador
May 29 - June 6.
It’s hard not to think of the comparison to the 1990s film Cool Runnings, in which
the underdog Jamaicans compete as bobsledders in the Winter Olympics — because
the Jamaicans are indeed long shots when it comes to competitive surfing.
“People still think that Jamaica doesn’t even have waves,” Bourgeois says. “Jamaicans
have a friendly, relaxed nature and desire to share waves with others, but we are working
on a lot of competitive tactics and surfing techniques. The surfers have got their work
cut out for them, but they are working hard.”