A big week awaits in Bathsheba, Barbados, with three event titles up for grabs along with World Junior Championship qualification spots and the North America Regional Qualifying Series (QS) on the line. Luckily for competitors on hand, Soup Bowl's promising three-to-five foot forecast looks to provide them with plenty of opportunity throughout the week.
It's a decisive affair on both fronts as the men's Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia will determine the final three slots to the World Junior Championship, along with the final women's event determining their final spot, and the Thomo QS 1,000 in Memory of Bill Thomson will decide the 2018 Regional Title winner.
Che Allan Looks to Defend Event Win, North America Title Hangs in Balance
San Clemente, California's, Kevin Schulz comes into this event with that opportunity as the sole competitor who can take down No. 1 Lucca Mesinas. But, he needs at least a Finals appearance to do so against a stacked lineup that includes the likes of Barbados' own Joshua Burke, Bruce and Dane Mackie, and defending event winner Che Allan. Allan is the only surfer to boast a Pro Junior and QS win at Soup Bowl and looks to do so once more in memory of Bill Thomson.
"It was special winning the first year in memory of Bill," Allan said. "There hadn't been a local win at Soup Bowl in a while in terms of QS or Pro events so it felt great to do that. It's a great event to have on schedule. It's an amazing wave and feels good to have a chance at points near home without any traveling. There is a little bit of pressure just from the last two years of winning events at Soup Bowl, but I'm not trying to think about that too much and just enjoy being at home."
Final Pro Junior World Junior Championship Selections on the Line
The first Live Like Zander Junior Pro in Memory of Zander Venezia titles went to Cole Houshmand and Kirra Pinkerton in 2017 and Houshmand is back to reclaim that honor once more. The 17-year-old comes into his last career Pro Junior event at Soup Bowl and needs a result to overtake a Top 4 spot to secure his place at the World Junior Championship.
"I'm super stoked to have our season wrap up here 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."
Houshmand, along with No. 5 Eithan Osborne down to No. 11 Liam Murray have the opportunity to mathematically jump into the No. 4 spot. For current No. 2 Crosby Colapinto (USA), as well as Kade Matson and Bo Raynor, the task at hand is to keep these competitors at bay with another big result and Colapinto is back to 100 percent following a back injury that hindered him in the RVCA Pro Junior.
"My mindset is to stay focused and be smart," Colapinto said. "Your back is such a huge part in surfing and you really learn that when it's not 100 percent. The one thing I was working on while I was hurt was staying positive and I feel like that really help the process go faster. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to compete here for the first time."
Though Pinkerton won't be contesting, current No. 2 Samantha Sibley, one of this event's finalists last year, is on hand to defend that position for a spot into Worlds. Sibley must make it past the Quarterfinals in order to secure her ranking from possible threats including Tiare Thompson, Kayla Coscino and Makena Burke. However, the San Clemente native knows this event goes beyond the competition and recalls her memories of the late Venezia.
"It's so great to have the experience of competing on a wave Soup Bowl," Sibley said. "You really have to charge out there. It's nice to have this contest where it can be more about technique and surfing and we have the opportunity to really show what we can do. Zander was a friend to all and he was honestly the happiest, nicest person I've ever met. Soup Bowl is one of my favorite waves and every time I'm out there I think of Zander getting the best barrels."
A 7:30am call wil determine an 8:00 a.m. start for the Thomo QS 1,000 with the Pro Juniors on standby for the day.
The Live Like Zander Junior Pro will run November 6 - 11 alongside the Thomo QS 1,000 running November 6 - 10 at Soup Bowl, Barbados.