A long-awaited dream of breaking through into the Qualifying Series (QS) platform from the beautiful island of Barbados has been realized. In addition to the men's Martinique Pro QS3,000 April 1 - 8, both men and women will vie for 3,000 vital points at the inaugural Barbados Surf Pro April 11 - 16. The east coast of Barbados' exquisite island nation has been utilized for the Soup Bowl Pro Junior over the last four years, but now Barbadians welcome the QS to its south coast for this milestone event.
Contest organizers Christopher Clarke, Louis Venezia, and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. are proud to bring this event to life and put the lefthand reefbreak of Drill Hall Beach, also known as Brandon's or "Brandends" by local surfers, on the competitive map.
""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. Drill Hall Beach is such an amazing break for all types of surfers. 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 has been publishing month after month."
One of those surfers set to put on a show is local talent and 2016 Championship Tour (CT) rookie, Chelsea Tuach. The 21-year-old is back on the QS hoping to re-qualify for a second chance at the Top 17 and this is the perfect opportunity to help that cause.
"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."
Fellow Barbadian women's QS competitor Chelsea Roett has found success at home outside the WSL, winning the Barbados Independence Pro, but awaits a breakthrough of her own. Since putting her focus on the QS in 2015, Roett has shown improvements each year and is a certain threat in this event.
"This is a big deal, having a QS at home is like a dream come true," Roett said. "No costly expenses to go anywhere and it also gives surfers in Barbados, and in our area, a great opportunity to get QS points. I have been climbing the ranks for the past few years, but due to the expense of travelling to international events, I've had to carefully choose which QS contests I compete in. My goal for this year is to get into the Top 24 in the QS so I can start the contest in the Round of 48."
After a fairly successful Junior Tour career to his name, Josh Burke is in his second year as a full-time QS competitor and working hard to find a maiden victory. The young Barbadian knows the hardships that come with grinding away and relishes the opportunity to compete at home.
"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 -- 'Brandends' 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. Every surfer [coming here] is top class and in addition hungry for a win."
Dane Mackie, along with brother Bruce, Che Allan, and a number of their countrymen are all hoping for a chance to make an impact. The younger Mackie, Dane, joins Burke as a Sophomore in the QS scene and is still trying to find the recipe for success.
"This is definitely a great feeling for all of us to compete in a QS3000 event at home," Mackie said. "We travel so much and so far for the QS, so an event this big is amazing. [It's] one of my favorite waves on the entire island. It will definitely help me to be surfing a wave I know very well and if I can get a good result at this contest it could help my rank tremendously going into the mid-year re-seeding."