The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in St. Lucia thanks to these Longboarders.
A short stroll from some all inclusive resorts in St. Lucia you may stumble upon the unexpected. It happened 10 days ago when a fast moving downhill party turned into a force for good for local kids.
In the finals, Sawyer “Bonez” Cote on Team Irene (in red) crashes while Rylan “Raggie” English on Team Green slides into third place.
Party Island Downhill brought more than longboarders to the Caribbean Island of Saint Lucia for its first-ever downhill longboarding competition on Dec. 13, 2016.
Organizer Bricin Lyons, working with Jody Wilcock, and the 16 competing riders all agreed to donate the $2,000.00 prize money to the Saint Lucia community to further the locals’ newfound passion for longboarding.
“Not everyone is as privileged as we are,” Lyons said. “So when we showed up, we hooked up with the local skate shop [UnVeil] and they introduced us to a bunch of kids who have passions for skating but don’t always have enough money for the gear. We got a good look at their setup and we got to share boards that we brought down there.”
The US $2,000 was intended to be distributed to the top finishing longboarders as prize money but on the night before the race, Lyons got together with the riders – many of whom struggled to afford the cost of getting to Saint Lucia to compete and they all agreed the money would be better spent on facilitating a community of longboarders on Saint Lucia.
“Didn’t matter who won,” Lyons said. “We as a group decided to make a special announcement after race. We got everybody’s attention, all the medals were out and all the TV cameras were there and the radio.
We made a special announcement to the Saint Lucian people that we were going to donate the money back to Saint Lucia, the island and the kids – to put the money towards building a skate park. So we left with some class. It blew everybody away, they couldn’t believe it.
“They just loved us,” Lyons said. “The prime minister had nothing but nice stuff to say about us. It got to that level where the prime minister is talking about us.”
Working with Taj Weekes, a Saint Lucia native who does outreach work on the island, the longboarders also donated gear including gloves, boards, trucks and wheels to jumpstart the longboarding community on Saint Lucia. Trucks are the devices that connect the wheels to the board.
The race itself was a big success, despite a few racecourse hazards.
“It was quite a dangerous track,” Lyons said. “There were five-foot drainage channels that lined both sides of the road. There would be a guy in eighth place and all of a sudden, he crosses the line in third and he doesn’t realize that he passed half the pack because they were in these huge ditches. It was pretty crazy for the racers, but they knew what they were getting themselves into.”
Two Pender Harbour locals received podium finishes – Sawyer “Bonez” Cote on Team Irene took fourth place, barely losing third to Rylan “Raggie” English on Team Green when Bonez wiped out right at the finish line. Lyons said it was close – they had to go to the video footage to decide the winners – but in the end he was happy that Raggie won third place as it was his first international podium finish.
“The finish was quite wild,” Lyons said. “Second place – Jonny Lachapelle – he crashed in front of the line and his board flew over the line, so he ran over the finish line and then jumped back on his board.
“That doesn’t count – typically – but he figured it did,” Lyons said. “So there was some drama at the finish line, which was cool. It made for an exciting finish for everyone. No one knew who won so we made a decision.”
Lyons has organized Pender Harbour’s Attack of Danger Bay longboarding competition for the last 15 years. Alongside Wilcock’s longboarding comp in Kimberley, B.C., which started at around the same time, the two are the longest running downhill longboarding races in the world.
Party Island Downhill will be back – in fact, Lyons plans on building it into an annual event, just like Danger Bay.
“These hills there are absolutely amazing. They’re better than anything we’ve seen in California,” Lyons said. “These are the best, turniest, steepest hills that we’ve seen. The locals realize that and we got them riding with helmets and slide gloves.
They’re talking about putting signs up on the road, like they do in Pender Harbour. It couldn’t have gone any better. We’ve already announced that all our food and all our beer is taken care of for next year.”
They deserve a toast for unselfishly doing so much for the local youth.
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