Making Heroes in East End

 By Eugene Bonthuys

Bringing together the high energy, hi-tech action of Jet Ski racing and the traditions of Cayman, the East End Surf Challenge combines the best of old and new.
The event combines the best of tight circuit racing with offshore racing to produce heart-pounding action.
The East End Surf Challenge takes place over the Heroes Day long weekend – and has a new crop of heroes vying to lay rightful claim to the moniker.
“The event has been running for 10 years consecutive with the first event being on May 27th 2000. This is our 10th anniversary and it’s going to be a blast,” says event organiser Shane Edwards.
Sponsored by What’s Hot, Flowers Bottled Water, Massive, Naya Wear, Maedac Supply, Red Bull, First Impression, and Cayman Screen Print, the East End Surf Challenge promises to have something for everyone.

Kicking it on the beach
On Saturday 16 January, the festivities kick off as local footballers demonstrate their skill in the GOL beach football tournament. Set to take place on the beach at East End’s Heritage Field, will provide some of Cayman’s best and brightest football stars with an opportunity to prove that their skills translate equally well from the pitch to the beach.

Come together
On Friday 22 January the Total Togetherness concert kicks off the festivities for the long weekend.
“This year for our 10th anniversary we will be having our very own Selecta Renegade, Eternal Vibes, a soca DJ from Miami and House Arrest, a well know soca DJ from Miami, DJ Alek and other local DJs from the district of East End. We decided to go with a great selection of DJs that will give a good mix of music with a specific emphasis on soca music,” says Shane.
He promises the best drinks prices on the island for the event, with specials on Red Bull to keep the party going.
Saturday will be a day of recovery after Friday night’s festivities, as everyone prepares for the rest of the weekend.

Taking to the water old school
On Sunday 24 January, the Captain Leroy Watson Sailing Regatta showcases the skill of the sailors who were once the lifeblood of the district, while celebrating the memory of one such seaman – Captain Leroy Watson. The event takes place at Viviene’s Kitchen in Gun Bay, East End.

Saving the best for last
Of course, the organisers save the best for last. On Monday 25 January, Heroes Day, it is time for the East End Surf Challenge.
“The East End Surf Challenge is different because it’s held in the very unique and traditional district of East End and unlike other Jet Ski racing events the racers are soaring across the beach within feet of the shoreline and all the action is in one central location where the spectators can enjoy the entire race. The event also includes a fish tea cook off that adds a bit of the culture and heritage that the district of East End is known for,” says Shane.
The course makes the event not only spectacular for the spectators, but also very challenging for the racers.
“The course is a buoy course in the inside of the reef and an endurance offshore race on the outside of the two centrally located channels in the district of East End. It’s without a doubt the best race on island with the combination course,” according to Shane.
Three classes are contested – Pro, Super Stock and Modified. There are three races in each class during the day, for a total of nine adrenaline-filled races on the day.

Doing it for the community
Although he started the event to bring the excitement of racing to East End, Shane says that after Hurricane Ivan it became a matter of benefitting the community by bringing people out to show their support for the rebuilding of East End.
“To date that was the biggest crowd in attendance. I’m only hoping to recapture that crowd support again this year,” Shane says.
The event gives back to the community in many ways.
“The event employs locals from the district to carry out the duties of the event as well as making contributions back to the community for educational development as well as support of needy cases. Our contributions include contributing to the East End Primary School to purchase library books, the East End Youth Football Club to purchase equipment for the soccer camp, to assist with various needy cases in the community after Hurricane Ivan and grants to students to complete their bachelors degree locally as well as overseas,” Shane says.
In celebration of the event’s 10th anniversary, there will be no gate entry fee for the East End Surf challenge this year.
“We want everyone to be in East End,” says Shane.   WH

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