Images From Haiti's First Surf Competition
Project info

A couple of years ago, exhausted after working on a story in Port au Prince, I ended up at a small surf shack outside of Jacmel (a city known as Haiti's cultural capital). The guesthouse was run by a French aid worker name Joan Mamique who'd burnt out after working in some of the world's worst hotspots (including Haiti post-earthquake) and was now teaching kids to surf the local breaks while helping build out a charity called Surf Haiti.

Over the past 2 years, Surf Haiti has slowly grown both in reputation and in size, while Haiti itself continues to struggle (with the recent election crisis another example of the ways the state has failed). In April, Joan contacted me with news that Surf Haiti would be hosting the country's first international surfing competition - an historic event by any measure, but perhaps made more interesting given the "international" component featured a surf team from the Dominican Republic. Internal tensions not withstanding, the often contentious relationship between the two countries that share the island has deteriorated further as changes to immigration policy risk creating a new class of Haitian refugees.

Against this backdrop, I returned to Jacmel mainly to help out and support the organization, but also to document the competition itself. The images are a mix of color and b&w, mostly film shot on an old Nikonos underwater camera and reflect an eclectic crowd (featuring, for example, Alain Maximilien, a DJ who goes by the name of the "Haitian Hillbilly" and has the words "MORE BEER" tattooed on his knuckles).