Surf's Up in Barbados: The Caribbean's Biggest Surfing Event Makes a Splash in the Surf Isle
After a successful staging of the biggest surfing event in the English-speaking Caribbean, one can truly say Barbados is indeed the Surf Isle.
Surfers from as far as South Africa, Cost Rica and across the North American region flew to Barbados to participate in the 2023 World Surf League (WSL) QS 5000 Barbados Surf Pro events and the Live like Zander Jr Pro, in memory of Zander Venezia.
Putting Barbados on the World Stage
The event was held at the legendary Soup Bowl which has been referred to as the best wave in the North American region and a dream wave for many international surfers.
Christopher Clarke, Co-Director of Surf Promotions Barbados stated “It is such a lovely experience to have our island showcased at one of the top qualifying series events. It’s been a bit of a dream and a hard road getting here. We have taken the event from a junior series into 3000 and now the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) has helped us out tremendously to get us to the highest level in the qualifying series.”
The event was organized by Surf Promotions Barbados, sponsored by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and presented by Diamonds International.
Surfing A Quality Wave
Floridian Zoe Benedetto, who copped the Barbados Surf Pro Women’s Champion title, described the wave and the island as a special place.
“Anyone who comes here is truly grateful to experience the people, the food, the surfing, the weather, everything is great out here. Winning here in Barbados, especially since it is the first and only 5000 of the season, is super special. It’s just one of those blissful feelings,” she stated.
For the local surfers, having an event of this calibre held on their home ground was a significant moment for them.
Barbadian surfer Joshua Burke, the Men’s Barbados Surf Pro runner-up said the event “helps to develop the sport of surfing in Barbados and gives the new generation coming up a chance to watch the professionals surf their home break.”
Joshua also expressed how grateful he was to compete in front of his family and friends, especially the Bathsheba community, whom he considers family.
Every time Joshua Burke stood up on a wave, one would think the ground was shaking as the entire crowd would go into an uproar.
This made California native Crosby Colapinto nervous but honoured to compete against Joshua in the finals, which he won, gaining the title of the 2023 Barbados Surf Pro Men’s Champion.
Showcasing Local and International Talent
Local surfers like reigning champion Chelsea Tuach, Chelsea Roett, Che Allen, Caleb Rapson, Kai St. George and Ocean Gittens also competed in the event, to name a few.
Chelsea Tuach stated, “It felt good to surf and perform in front of the home crowd and to see everyone ripping up Soup Bowl.”
Young and upcoming surfers also showcased their skills during the week at the Live Like Zander Jr Pro and the Under 12 exhibition.
The winners of the Live Like Zander Jr Pro were Noah Klapp and Levi Slawson, who both reside in California. Furthermore, Barbadian Christian Stoute won the Under 12 division.
The Under 12 division featured all Barbadian natives and gave young local surfers the unique opportunity to compete in a similar environment to the professionals.
A Great Support System
The support for the surfers over the weekend was encouraging with spectators like West Coast Tent City, camping out on the beach all weekend to take in all the action. Gabriel George and his friends have been camping out at surf competitions for over 20 years.
He explained “We love the water, we love the waves, we love Barbados. There is no better way to represent and support than to camp out on our favourite spot on the whole island.”
This year also featured a new wellness component to the event with the opportunity to participate in yoga, an East Coast hike and a beach clean-up. There was also a fashion show held that showcased collections from Sea Egg Barbados, a swimwear brand which caters to surfers.
So, it’s safe to say, with the unwavering support and incredible talent being showcased in Barbados, the future looks bright for the Surf Isle.
For full results on the WSL Barbados Surf Pro visit: https://www.worldsurfleague.com/events/2023/qs/124/barbados-surf-pro/main
By: Rhe-Ann Prescod