Teshawn Jones, one of three Virgin Islands surfers set to travel to Puerto Rico today, practices at Long Bay on Tortola. (Photo: Provided)

After the hasty formation of the territory’s first national surfing organisation, three Virgin Islands surfers are headed to Puerto Rico today for a contest that could give them a shot at the 2024 Olympics.

The 2024 International Surfing Association World Surfing Games in Arecibo — which is scheduled to start tomorrow and continue through March 3 — is the final qualifying event for the 2024 Summer Olympics from July 26 through Aug. 11.

The three VI surfers headed to Puerto Rico are Teshawn Jones, 18, Zebedee Branford, 20, and Rush Broderick, 16.

“It’s such a great opportunity for us surfers,” Mr. Broderick said. “We’re gonna be up against some of the greatest surfers in the entire world. Just to get that kind of exposure to new [surf ] breaks and a higher level of surfing is just such an amazing opportunity.”

Mr. Broderick is currently in England attending school, but he plans to fly into Puerto Rico today to reconnect with his compatriots. The other two VI surfers have been practising in Long Bay, Tortola, which has an “a-frame” break similar to the one they will surf in Puerto Rico, according to Alex Dick-Read, the chairman of the recently formed BVI International Surfing Association.

First association

Mr. Dick-Read said the association was formed quickly to give the surfers a chance to compete in the Puerto Rico contest.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever had one in the BVI,” Mr. Dick-Read said Monday. “It provides an entry point for anyone that qualifies to go to the Olympics this summer.”

While most Olympic events will take place in Paris, France this year, qualifying surfers will compete at Teahupo’o (pronounced “choh-poo”), a famously heavy break in Tahiti.

Asked if the territory’s top surfers would be prepared for Tahiti in the event they qualify for the Olympics, Mr. Dick-Read was confident.

“Our waves here are really outstanding at the baseline, for sure,” he said. “It’s just that we’ve never had any kind of competitive history here, really.”

At the practice sessions, which also included other young surfers, Mr. Dick-Read focused on teaching the finer points of competition.

“[The practice at Long Bay] was all about teaching [surfers] the rules, strategy, how to handle the priority system — the fine details of actually competing,” Mr. Dick-Read said. “A friend of ours who’s a former [World Surf League] pro, Ben Bourgeois, comes down here a lot. He came yesterday to help give some advice and tips and guidance to the team.”

Hailing from Ocean City, New Jersey, Mr. Bourgeois retired from regular competition in 2008 but has a lifetime of competitive surfing experience under his belt.

“It was really good,” Mr. Dick-Read said of the visit. “You could tell that they just were benefiting so much. They had so many questions and they were just absorbing everything.”

Ben Bourgeois instructs young surfers on the beach of Long Bay on Tortola. (Photo: Provided)
Ready to go

If any of the VI surfers qualifies for the Olympics, they might have to surf waves bigger than they’ve ever experienced.

But Mr. Broderick said he isn’t fazed by the famous Tahiti break.

“Undoubtedly, [Teahupo’o] is just a phenomenal wave. I’ve never surfed a wave like it. I mean, it really is one of a kind,” he said. “It’s a pretty dangerous wave, but in the event that we did make it through, I think it would be too much of an opportunity to not try it, you know?”