Meet Jamaica’s First Professional Surfer
Icah Wilmot talks family legacy, Jamaican localism, and soap operas.
Remember the impromptu Jamaican BumRush we posted a few weeks back?
If you don’t recall, in it, we got to know Shama Beckford — a local pro in the Caribbean’s biggest little surf scene.
However, we didn’t get a deep insight into his fellow judge, and equally talented goofy-footer, Icah Wilmot.
Now’s our chance.
Growing up on his families land in Bull Bay, it became quickly apparent that Icah and his siblings were catching eyes. “When we were groms and my dad saw that we were getting really good, he wanted to go out of his way to go seek support for us because he didn’t have the same support when he was younger,” Icah says. “He found boards and sponsorships for me and my brothers and as we got older, I was the first person to pursue surfing as a career in Jamaica. It was really rough trying to navigate the whole industry and even after 15 years, I’m still making my way. But I think you need role models. You need people to look up to in anything you do in life. And when I was younger, I didn’t really have a person in surfing to look up to.”
When he’s not playing Reggae music, Icah is focused on illuminating a path for the local kids — and fostering an inviting culture in Jamaica’s pre-localism lineups.
“Jamaican surf culture is unique because it’s so small and inviting,” he says. “You’ll paddle out and, even if you’ve never surfed in Jamaica, everyone welcomes you with open arms. People will be super interested in where you’re from and what your story is.”
And for the kids?
“Try not to compare yourself to the other surfers around you. That is what I try to tell the people that I teach. Everyone is so different, and you just can’t compare. You have to just focus on having fun and surfing for yourself.”
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