The World Surf League (WSL) North America Junior Series is set to make its way to the exotic Caribbean island of Barbados from November 12-15 for the Sprite Soup Bowl Pro Junior, the final qualifying event of the 2015 season. Returning for the third consecutive year to the infamous reefbreak of Soup Bowl, located in the rural fishing village of Bathsheba, some of the most talented 20 and under surfers from around the region will battle for a spot at the upcoming WSL Junior Championships.
Defending event champion Daniel Glenn (USA) has his eyes set on another phenomenal result and finding his way into this year's World Championships. The New Smyrna Beach, FL native had a great run this summer, earning an equal 5th at The Los Cabos Open of Surf and an equal 7th at the inaugural RVCA Pro Junior - but he will need a result in Barbados to keep that dream alive.
"This event is very important for me currently being 3rd on the rankings," Glenn said. "Keeping an equal 13th place result as of now, I need to better that to hopefully secure my spot for World Juniors. I've been focused on qualifying for Worlds all year, it was my main goal for 2015 because it will be my last chance at it. I'm feeling confident in myself - I won last year so why couldn't I do it again?"
Glenn has come a long way since finishing at the No. 20 spot last year, and now has a shot to return to ‘Worlds' for his second time in three years - something he won't take lightly.
Heading into Barbados, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) leads the North America Junior Series rankings after an amazing 2015 season not only in the Juniors, but also the men's Qualification Series (QS), where he is currently No. 6 overall and earning a spot on the elite Samsung Galaxy Men's Championship Tour (CT). Just behind Igarashi, No. 2 Parker Coffin (USA), No. 3 Glenn, and No. 4 Griffin Colapinto (USA) are all qualifying for the World Championships at this stage but have no room for error in the final event. Provided Igarashi remains in the Top 4 on the Junior Series, No. 5 on the rankings will qualify as Igarashi will be granted a spot as the highest ranked North American Junior on the QS Rankings.
Joining the men's Pro Junior, the women will also take to the shores of Barbados as local favorite Chelsea Tuach (BRB) looks to defend her event title. It has been an incredible year for the 19-year-old Bajan, earning two wildcard spots into CT events and then winning the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro QS6000 to solidify her spot in next year's Samsung Galaxy Women's CT to become the first Bajan to do so.
"I really look forward to this event every November," Tuach said. "It's the only time I get to compete in front of my home crowd and a win here feels extra special. I also think I carry a lot more confidence through this event because of all the support I have around me. This year I really believed I could make the tour - I felt more focused than I'd ever been. I tried to tick all the boxes with my nutrition, my training, and working closely with my coach."
With a victory, the Bajan would also claim a North America women's Junior Series Title as she currently sits atop the rankings. One additional spot for the women's Junior Championships will be determined at Soup Bowl, with No. 3 Tia Blanco (USA) and No. 4 Meah Collins (USA) locked into a tight battle, only separated by 25 points between them. Due to injury, current No. 2 Caroline Marks (USA) has been forced to withdraw and will have to wait and see how the event develops before learning her qualification status.
"With the title coming down to Soup bowl and this event being my last Pro Junior ever a win would mean a lot," Tuach said. "I've really enjoyed competing in the Junior Series and I'd love to go out with a bang. I want to be as prepared as possible and I think that makes a difference."
Contest Director Christopher Clarke is elated with the opportunity in front of him and what this contest does for Bajan exposure. Clarke has been on the Barbados Surfing Association committee for 13 years and in the Contest Director position for the last five, allowing him to see firsthand the talent that encompasses his beloved island.
"We think this event has built up the confidence of our local surfers to be able to compete in a world class event on their home turf - showing them that they are some of the best surfers in the world," Clarke said. "These events help the non-travelling surfers see what level they have to obtain to compete with the rest of the world and shows some of them that they are already there."
"It is great to see the parents and the surf community come together and ease the nerves for Barbadian surfers, and cheer them on no matter what they place," Clarke added. "We just enjoy surfing, not only for the competition, but for the lifelong bonds and friendships it creates for our surfers. We know that we have some talented surfers here that come from a lineage of over 40 years - since the first waves were ridden here on our shores. We have history in the surf world and support our kids 100%."
Event registration is still open through the World Surf League Member Management at www.worldsurfleague.com. The Sprite Soup Bowl Pro Junior will run in conjunction with the Barbados Independence Pro (BIP), hosting Open Men, Open Women, Under 16 and Under 12 divisions. BIP registration is accessible through the www.barbadossurfingassociation.org site.