Although these islands are not known for world-rated surfing, waves can reach as high as 15 feet, and there’s a small but enthusiastic community.
The best locations are along Trinidad’s north and northeast coast, while in Tobago the southwest coast, including Mount Irvine, Pigeon Point and even a spot near to the airport are popular. Balandra, Damien’s, Irvine, Roughside, Sunset, Salybia, Sans Souci and Toco: are the among the best surfing spots from December to April.
Jude Gomez, hopped on a board in Tobago when he was just four, with his father Blair guiding him. “I’ve been surfing for as long as I can remember. It’s just the rush of riding the waves…and the adrenaline I get from it.” Jude, alongside Aiden Albada, were selected by Surf TT to represent T&T at the recent IOC-sponsored Central American Caribbean Sea and Beach Games in Santa Marta, Colombia, in 2022. They were among some of the youngest surfers there, competing against seasoned seniors, some world-ranked in the top 50. For Jude, competing at the multi-sport event that featured 26 countries and 544 athletes was a “real eye opener”. He now spends most of his time training and has also opened a business repairing surfboards. The talented eighteen-year-old is grateful for the unwavering support of parents, Blair and Linda-Lee, as well as coach Jason Apparicio.
Aiden Albada migrated to California about four years ago. He began chasing waves with his Dad, Edward,
at the age of four. Now fourteen, he is rankled No 1 (for the season) by the Western Surfing Association (WSA) and National Scholastic Surfing Association’s (NSSA) Gold Coast Division (16-and-under category). Now he goes to Santa Barbara Junior High School with his surfboard, as the Independent Study Programme ensures he can train after school; and often travels home, winning gold at local competitions last year with the support of coaches Jason Apparicio and Chris Keet. He’s most proud of representing T&T at the ISA World Junior Championships in El Salvador where he placed 49th in the under-16-category, at only thirteen-years-old, in a field of over 120 competitors. There’s no doubt that Aiden’s passion for surfing began at home. “Upon moving to Santa Barbara in 2018, I became serious about surfing as my primary competitive sport. I now surf as much as I can and train with a kinesiology trainer specifically for surf mobility…I consider myself a power surfer who also loves modern manoeuvres like blow tails… My long-term goal is to enjoy life as a professional surfer.”
For sixteen-year-old Alec Mendes, being out at sea is “peaceful and calming, it’s my happy place.” Alec began surfing in Trinidad at a very early age alongside his father Ryan, also an accomplished athlete. “Whenever we went to beach, I would try to use the board and catch waves and I’ve loved it ever since. I guess my first mentor was my dad, and later I met Chris Dennis and Alan Davis who I also looked up to. Whenever I go surfing and they are there, they give me pointers and advice.” Although he was selected for the National Team to compete at the ISA World Junior Championship, he unfortunately couldn’t attend. Over the years he has won numerous awards, one of the most memorable being the T&T 2022 Junior Championships.
“All my friends were there and the vibe was great,” he added when asked about the future of the sport that more investment is needed. “Surfing was more popular in the past. We need more juniors and more support from the government to encourage the sport.” Alec is one of the talented young surfers in a community that has also seen more girls competing.
Ludmilla Günther began surfing at seven after watching her father, Albert. That Christmas she asked for a surf board from Santa Claus, and Santa delivered. Since then, the fourteen-year-old has wanted to go surfing almost every weekend. Her family migrated from Germany to Trinidad in 2013 and last year, Ludmilla was selected for the German National Junior Team as one of two female Junior Surfers. She has represented Germany at the ISA World Junior Championship 2022 in El Salvador and at the ESF European Junior Championships 2022 in Portugal where she placed 19th (U16 Girls) and 21st (U18 Girls), respectively.
“I like surfing because it helps to clear my mind after a long week of school, or a bad day, or just helps me to relax and ease-up in general…I love the sense of freedom and playfulness the sport gives and learning new tricks and manoeuvres.”
Llewellyn Whittaker from South Africa, a former professional surfer and Olympic Surf coach, coaches her online, as well as Didier Pitier. Prior to that, she trained with local surfing instructors including Stefan Lue Chin who taught her the fundamentals and to overcome her fear of bigger waves. In her short career she has won several competitions including the National Surfing Champion 2018 Trinidad & Tobago (U12 Mixed & U14 Girls), National Champion 2019 Trinidad & Tobago (U14 Girls); and 1st Place at Tobago Pro 2019 (Female). As a competitive Swimmer for the Flying Fish Swim Club, she holds six National Titles.
For Esther Hares, who began surfing when she was just four-and-a half, her passion for the sport is indescribable, “on a wave is where I feel completely free… but there are no words I have that can really describe it,”
Esther was recently selected for an International Surfing Association (ISA) Global Youth Ambassador Scholarship Award (2022) and was one of five female athletes selected in the region of Latin America to attend the inaugural ISA and Olympic Solidarity Continental Youth Athlete Development Program in El Salvador (2022). The fourteen-year-old enjoys surfing most weekends in both Trinidad and Tobago, guided by coach Jason Apparicio and supported by parents Belinda and Damian. One of her most memorable events include surfing in the Soup Bowl in Barbados when she was just ten and attending the World Junior Surfing Championships. Her awards include the U12 Nationals 2017 (8yrs); First Citizens Sports Award - winner Youth Female Surf Athlete (2020); and Girls U18 and U16 - ranked 1st (2020). For this new generation, there’s a groundswell towards proudly representing their country in the international arena.