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Spiers documents T&T’s surf history
Seasoned surfer Sherrard Spiers’ recently published ‘A History of Surfing in Trinidad and Tobago’ has archived if not the only, one of very few printed collections of the foundation and rise of the sport locally.
The 36-page document serves both as a go-to guide for T&T’s surfing enthusiasts, while presenting an unambiguous chronicle beginning with the sport’s introduction in Trinidad during the 1950s to the country’s more recent branding of Tobago as a world-wide destination of surfing.
At 46, Spiers is now in his tenth year as an international competitor at the senior level, and has used his experiences to help promote the sport in T&T, a country relatively new to the sport.
“This is the first of perhaps a series of publications. I may have left some details out that will be used in a subsequent copy,” said Spiers on the item, which he has opted to distribute free of charge.
Spiers has served as vice-president of the Surfing Association of T&T for seven years until 2013. However, he explained that it was only three years ago, during a visit to California that the idea of understanding T&T’s history in the sport struck him.
“I went to California in 2011 and visited a surfing museum and then thought to myself, ‘I know the history of surfing in the USA but I don’t know it in my own country,’” said Spiers. He then decided to compile information gathered from veteran surfers with the intention of helping young people in particular understand the history of the sport in T&T.
Spiers said he makes the attempt to visit a new country each year and on top of California, he has visited Fiji, New Zealand, El Salvador along with serveral other top surfing destinations. But, asked for his favourite surf spot, he would opt for Mt Irvine, Tobago.
“Mt Irvine to me is the best destination in T&T. Tobago on its day is up with the best surfing destinations in the world. It’s now being recognized among the best in the Caribbean. Matelot and Sans Souci are among the best in Trinidad.”
The book provides a timeline highlighting some of the key players in the rise of the sport including John Pollard and Randall Rostant in the 1940s; Joanna Luces, T&T’s first known female surfer’s birth in 1950, along with Howard Eckel, a well known pioneer of the sport. Some names more recognizable due to their exploits in the past couple decades include national champions Che Lovelace and Chris Dennis, both of whom are highlighted in the book.
Spiers wrote, “Many believed that modern surfing on these shores began in the 1970s with pioneers such as Richard Shim or Peter Boland but we have recently discovered that the opening chapter in the book of modern surfing in T&T’s surfing history may have actually begun almost two decades earlier.”
He mentions the humble beginnings of wood craft, with a photograph (circa 1950) of members of the Eckel, Shaw and O’Connor families in Salibia, Toco. This, before the introduction of the fiberglass boards some two decades later.
Spiers said he enjoys working with children and says he hopes the book can achieve an increase of interest and understanding of the sport in T&T.
As evidenced in his work, new feats are continuously achieved in the sport locally, and among the latest and greatest developments is the introduction of the Junior Surf Series, in Las Cuevas beach for children under 16 years, in 2013. According to Spiers, it was the first all-junior event hosted in T&T. It was sponsored by his company- Beach Break Surf Shop, which is located in West Mall.
The book is available at Break Break, West Mall, a surf shop owned by Spiers.