The World Surf League (WSL) has visited Barbados’ beautiful coastline for the past four years to determine the North America Regional Junior Champions. But, this spring will see the island nation host its first-ever Qualifying Series (QS) event, creating a Caribbean leg of competition for the men in addition to the Martinique Pro. The inaugural Barbados Surf Pro Men and Women’s QS3,000 will take place April 11 – 16 at Drill Beach, located on the south coast of Barbados and the Barbadian representatives couldn’t be happier.
Contest organizers Christopher Clarke, Louis Venezia, and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. have a great opportunity before them to showcase even more of the country’s exquisite coastline. A country prided on their surfing culture, the Barbados Surf Pro marks a huge milestone in the work they continue to show for their surfers. “Barbados has been waiting for an event of this magnitude since the inception of competitive surfing’s beginnings,” Clarke said. “Having it be a men’s and women’s qualifying event will showcase our surfers against some of the world’s best. It was a natural progression after four successful WSL [Pro Junior] events to move into the big leagues. It has been a long hard fight to get to this stage, but we feel like we are meant to be here. The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. has been seeing the results and exposure surfing brings to the island, so it did not take too much convincing for them to bring surfing back to Barbados at this level.”
“Drill Hall Beach is such an amazing break for all types of surfers,” Clarke continued. “The left point break is located on the southwest side of the island. It works with an east and southeast swell with most wind conditions. We felt like this location could showcase our surfers at a more accessible surf location to all of the Barbadians, and for tourists to take a look at what the local newspaper have been publishing month after month.”
One of those local surfers ready to showcase is Josh Burke (BRB). The 20-year-old enters his second year as a full-time QS competitor and has already been busy with appearances at the Volcom Pipe Pro, as well as the recent Australian leg. While he still awaits a big breakthrough at the QS level, a QS3,000 in his home country offers a massive opportunity. “I’ve been waiting for a QS to happen at home all my surfing career,” Burke said. “[It] should be a very fun QS, especially if a solid swell moves through — [this break] will be an instant hit. It’s also inspiring for all the local kids to watch the QS tour surfers from around the world surf their home break, teaching them lots while making them look at the wave differently. They see what can possibly be done on the wave. Every surfer is top class and hungry for a win.”
After competing at the highest level of surfing on the Championship Tour (CT), Chelsea Tuach (BRB) is back on the QS and gunning for a second chance to re-qualify. The Barbadian had plenty of success at home on the Junior Tour, winning the Soup Bowl Pro Junior three years in a row, and now has a chance to translate that to the QS level and earn her second win of the 2017 season. “Being able to compete at a QS 3,000 event on home turf is an incredible opportunity,” Tuach said. “The Pro Juniors held at Soup Bowl were the last time I’ve competed at home and they still hold some of the sweetest memories of my competitive career. The energy and passion you feel when you’re competing in front a home crowd is inspiring. I’ll really be hoping to perform well in order to collect some vital points towards requalification.”
North America Tour Manager Brian Robbins represents the region on-site at all the events and sees the impact of these such competitions firsthand. Robbins and North America General Manager, Meg Bernardo, work with the contest organizers to provide the WSL platform to their events — and in turn more opportunities for surfers to succeed. “This event ticks all the boxes of what we’re trying to do for the surfers who are hoping to make their dreams happen,” Robbins said. “We can’t wait to see this event unfold and provide a multi-event series in the Caribbean along with the distinguished Martinique Pro. To have an inaugural QS event in a surf-rich country such as Barbados, and at the 3,000 level for both men and women, is such an exciting time for all the Barbadians — as well as for all of us at WSL.”