Hurley Jamaica x Shama Beckford Launch event

by Jessica Romoff

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

Last night Hurley held their Jamaica Collection launch event at the Undefeated Pop-UP, hosted by the top Jamaican surfer and Olympic hopeful Elishama “Shama” Beckford, who collaborated on the collection. A line of hungry visitors snaked around the store, each mouth watering for a bite of Ozi’s Kitchen Jamaican food, as Shama greeted everyone with a beaming smile and kind eyes. 

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

If you are unfamiliar with the surfing sensation, praised international athlete, “Shama The Superman,” let me fill you in: he has shifted the public eye onto Jamaica as a standout surf destination, and is training to represent Jamaica at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where surfing will be an official sport for the first time in history. “This is history making, for Jamaican pro surfers to really put Jamaica on the map,” says Beckford. “It’s cool because there’s no spotlight on Jamaica, so all those young talents coming up in Jamaica now have a stage and a voice. So it’s very fulfilling for me.” 

The Jamaica collection was inspired by the art of Jamaican dance hall posters and focuses on a vibrant variety of men’s and women’s product, honoring one of surfing’s most beautiful communities. All sales from the event and three day pop-up shop will go towards surfing scholarships for youth in Bull Bay, Jamaica. 

Check out the short documentary film of Shama below, and a Q&A about the new line, his family, and the best surfing advice he’s ever been given! 

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

How does surfing in Jamaica compare to surfing in LA? 

It’s a lot different. I feel like back home in Jamaica is a lot freer, you know? But you have so many cool people you surf with in LA, so it’s just a different atmosphere, and it’s cool in its own away. 

What’s the best surfing advice you’ve ever been given? And what’s the worst?

Sometimes people try to give you advice on how to surf, like your style. And I don’t really agree with that. I feel like surfing should be who you are, and an expression of how you really feel. So there’s really no set way to do it. Some bad advice I’ve gotten is people trying to tell me how to surf, how to change my style. Good advice that I’ve gotten is people telling me to do what I feel like doing, and what feels good to me. 

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

Why do you think providing these surfing scholarships in Jamaica is important for the youth? What did surfing do for you as an adolescent, and where do you think you would be without it?

Super important. You know man, growing up in Jamaica when surfing was just starting out there, there was no industry still. Getting boardshorts for kids is super hard, to get surfboards, all the equipment is really hard to come by. So, if they’re getting that help to get the right equipment, get surf boards, and get the right gear, then the sky's the limit for these kids. They have world class waves, the drive and the dreams. They just need facilities. They just need the help. 

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford

Who do you think you would be without surfing? What would your life look like now? 

I would be doing something along the lines of art. I like self expression. So if I wasn’t surfing I’d probably be painting. Art runs in my family. I’m just happy I found surfing as an avenue and an outlet for my creativity. 

I absolutely loved the short documentary, and I was wondering if there is a moment that you are most proud of from the film? 

The part that I am most proud of is the aspect of giving back to the next generation, and stressing how important that is. Kids need to have what is necessary to express themselves. And putting that in place for them is the biggest goal. So seeing that come to life is the most fulfilling feeling. And also tapping into the culture. 

There was this really gorgeous shot of you and your sister singing! Do you guys ever go surfing together? 

Yeah! I come from a family of artists, so she’s actually a touring musician. She’s in Africa at the moment. And she’s watching normally. I come from a family of five sisters and a brother. So I’m the youngest of seven. 

Is there any last note you’d like to end on?

In the upcoming year, the Jamaica team is trying to qualify for the Olympics. This is the first time surfing will be in the Olympics in history. So we have a team going to Japan in September to represent. So good energy and a whole new wave of Jamaican surf athletes to look out for. 

Photo by Zack Whitford

Photo by Zack Whitford