“Wow, I want to go there!” exclaimed the excited Jamaican surfers as Red Bull’s big wave surfer Ian Walsh shared with the youth his experiences riding big waves like JAWS in Hawaii, which go as high as 80 feet.
Walsh arrived on the island on Wednesday July 14, 2010 ahead of the annual MAKKA Pro surfing competition. He spent time with young surfers from not only Jamaica but also Trinidad and Barbados, all here on a week-long surf camp at Billy Wilmot’s surfing village in Bull Bay, St. Thomas.
“I am really excited to be here and to meet Billy Wilmot who has really built the sport locally,” said Ian. “Being out in the water with the kids was great fun. They blew me away with great questions, showing me that they are genuinely passionate and eager to make it far in this sport. There is more than enough opportunity and natural talent here for Jamaican surfers to excel eventually on the world stage”, says Walsh.
Walsh was on the island staging a two day Red Bull Under My Wing clinic, which allows aspiring surfers to train with and learn from athletes who have made it to the pro level. Stressing the importance of pro athletes getting involved in the building and longevity of the sport, Walsh says, “It’s really important that my generation, who had to overcome challenges, impart information and learnings so that the upcoming generation of surfers don’t have to face the same issues, ensuring a smoother ride for them”.
In the Red Bull Under My Wing clinic, Ian talked about what it takes to become a pro athlete, covering areas like how he started out in the sport, what drives him and keeps him going even when there are no waves, the importance of family in becoming a pro athlete, making a living out of surfing as a sport, acquiring sponsors and working closely with the media.
Also on location to shoot the clinics was Red Bull Photofiles photographer Agustin Munoz who also gave valuable tips to the surfers about working with photographers and videographers in the water.
“You have to look for the photographer and intereact with him to ensure he can get that right shot,” he said. “It’s 50% photographer and 50% surfer that makes those perfect surfing photos. It is really important to have great photographs to send to sponsors and the media when you are building a sports resume.”
Ian has been part of the Red Bull Surfing team since 2004, the year that a picture of him riding a 70-foot wave in Maui circled the world and earned him the runner-up spot for the Billabong XXL Awards behind legendary North Shore waterman Pete Cabrinha. Since then, his name has been forever etched into the halls of big wave riding. In 2008, his ride at Teahupo’o earned him the Surfer Poll “Heavy Water” Award.