Imani Wilmot: Jamaican Surfer Curving a Path for Black Women

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Imani Wilmot is sharing her passion for the surfing with Jamaicans. She’s the founder of Surf Girls Jamaica, an organization that teaches young girls and women the art of surfing. Wilmot was featured in the film ‘Surf Girls Jamaica,’ in which she talks about surfing in Jamaica. Beyond that, she’s a filmmaker and dancer. Learn more about her here.

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Imani Wilmot’s Early Career

Imani Wilmot on a surfboard. Source: Instagram

Imani was destined to be a surfer. She was born on the southeast coast of Jamaica. Her father, Billy ‘Mystic’ Wilmot, is a prominent surfer in the country. Alongside his sons, they spent so much time in the waters, and Wilmot joined them.

However, she quickly noticed that few women were surfing. She attributed this to the fact that women fear for their hair and skin; plus, they’ve been taught to stay away from the water. For her, it’s different because she grew up surfing, and she never thought about it.

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Competitions

Jamaica surfing team. Source: Instagram

Imani was the best female surfer in the country. When she was 10, she won all the competitions nearly every time until she joined college. Her first international competition was the 2004 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing in Ecuador. She also represented the country in the World Games, Jupiter Beach Fall Classic and the World Junior Games.  

Even though she loved travelling with the team and surfing, she realized there were only a few women taking part in competitions. She recalls her school acknowledging her achievements, but the fact that she was the only girl didn’t sit well with her. 

The Jamaican started a camp called Surf Like a Girl and held it every summer. “I felt like I was the only one who could fill this gap. I had a huge urge to get this done,” Wilmot told redbull.com.

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Surfing Camps

Imani doesn’t charge her attendees for coming to her camps because she aims to spread the skill to as many people as possible. 

“It’s not about making money. I want to give these girls a new experience and it’s slowly working. A handful of my students are now regular surfers.“ Wilmot tells tetongravity.com

Despite her efforts, women’s surfing hasn’t peaked in Jamaica yet. Nonetheless, she takes pride in seeing women consistently show up. Imani Wilmot still holds on to her dream of forming a Jamaican surf team. 

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More Than Just a Camp

Wilmot has created a platform that’s not just about surfing. It serves as a place where women can escape from their realities. “It’s difficult being a woman in Jamaica and surfing provides an outlet for people to forget about their issues.”

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Surf Girls Jamaica Film

A film about surfing in Jamaica with Imani Wilmot. Video Credit: Real Stories

Wilmot was featured in this award-winning film that tells the story of women surfing in Jamaica. The women in her camp tell their stories: how they got into surfing and why they do it. These women have experienced difficulties and the one thing that’s helping them cope is surfing. 

Imani Wilmot has taken on the big task of creating a competitive surfing team for her country. Her drive and passion for breaking barriers in the water is enviable. Teaching black women that the water can be safe and allowing them to explore it is a game changer for this generation. Hopefully, one day, Jamaica will have a women’s surfing team doing great internationally!

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