NewsLive Like Zander Junior ProRachel Presti

Pro Junior Finale Culminates in Barbados

The culmination of hard work and determination amounts to one last event for both the North America Men and Women Pro Juniors at the Men and Women's Live Like Zander Junior Pro in Memory of Zander Venezia beginning November 6 - 11, coinciding with the Thomo QS in Memory of Bill Thomson.

Zander Venezia The Live Like Zander movement continues to help spread his infectious smile and personality across the world. WSL / asher nolan

Last September, the surfing community of Barbados and much of the world was rattled by the unexpected death of Zander Venezia at just 16 years of age. But, his father Louis, mother Lisa, and older sister Bella have helped keep his memory well intact with the Zander Venezia Trust - where contributions will go to children in need in Barbados - as well as Louis' steadfast determination alongside Christopher Clarke to ensure the Pro Junior event never leaves Soup Bowl.

Louis Veneza holding an honorary Live Like Zander Junior Pro jersey. Since the Championship Tour's Jeep Leader Jersey is yellow, that color jersey was retired on the QS and Junior Tours, but a special jersey in honor of Zander Venezia, as well as Bill Thomson, was made in dedication to the event. Louis Venezia WSL / Andrew Nichols

"It really means the world to me to have this event back," Louis said. "Zander and I had a special bond traveling to all these events since he was 8-years-old and I know he'd would want me to keep doing them, and I will keep doing them as long as I can. Zander's loving attitude touched and inspired many lives and to carry on this event in his memory is a great honor to him. This will keep his legacy alive for years to come and pave the way for future generations of young surfers."

Last year's event winner Cole Houshmand looks forward to the opportunity of defending that win for a shot at the World Junior Championship, but knows the opportunity to pay his respects toward a friend outweighs that.

Cole Houshmand (USA) winning his Quarterfinal heat at the Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia. Houshmand's backhand compliments the beautiful reefbreak and helped push him toward the podium last year. WSL / Andrew Nichols

"I'm super stoked to have our season wrap up there again, I love Barbados and the wave is amazing," Houshmand said. "It means a lot to be defending event champ since it's an event in Zander's honor. I can't wait to get back there with everyone for him and have another good event."

Women's defending event winner Kirra Pinkerton will miss this year's contest, but fresh off her win in Costa Rica, Rachel Presti will be in attendance to continue that success and celebrate Zander.

Rachel Presti (USA) winning her Round One heat at the Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia. Presti is ready and waiting for a special trip once more. WSL / Andrew Nichols

"I loved this event last year and loved that it was honor of Zander," Presti said. "Its so nice to get together and share fun stories about him and remember him by the loving, funny, kind person he was. Its very important to have this event back and I think about Zander all the time. He inspires me to work hard and push passed my fears. He was fearless and found so much joy in surfing. In Barbados, I feel as if he is still there enjoying every session with me and I get this warm feeling that makes me really happy."

Venezia and Clarke, Surf Promotions Barbados, are set on keeping that legacy not only alive, but thriving for surfers and the island as a whole.

Soup Bowl lineup Soup Bowl delivering the goods. WSL / Andrew Nichols

"When the waves are good, Soup Bowl is a good as any CT level wave on the planet and that's not common for a junior event," Venezia added. "This year we added an extra two days of competition to the waiting period and this will help us maximize the opportunity for Soup Bowl to really turn on and let these kids showcase their talents to a world wide audience. I think it's extremely important for the surfers and the Island."

"Not only does it help the younger Barbadian surfers gain international exposure, but it also helps the Barbados economy attract roughly 500 visitors to the island and exposes Barbados to millions through the live webcast. Not to mention being fortunate enough to surf Soupbowl with just four surfers in the water."

The Live Like Zander Junior Pro in Memory of Zander Venezia will run November 6 - 11 at Soup Bowl, Bathsheba, Barbados.

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