Barbados is home to some of the most pristine and beautiful coastline known to the surfing world, and its played host to professional surfing for six years running. The Qualifying Series' (QS) return next month marks the second annual Barbados Surf Pro Men's and Women's QS 3,000 held March 27 through April 1 after successfully bringing the QS back to Soup Bowl last November.
But, with Surf Promotions Barbados dynamic duo of Christopher Clarke and Louis Venezia, the ambitions far exceed the QS 3,000 level.
"I think the skies the limit," Venezia said. "It all started in 2012, after Zander [Venezia] and myself returned from a WSL event from Florida in which the waves were very small. Zander said to me, ‘Why cant we have a WSL contest like this in good waves, like we have at home?' I thought to myself, why not? That's it. The seed was sewn and I haven't looked back since."
Louis then created the Soup Bowl Pro Junior in 2013, now named after his late son - theLive Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia.
"Although Zander is no longer with us, I will continue to host these events in his honor as long as possible, continually growing them," Venezia added. "My outlook for the future is to increase the level to 6000 or 10,0000 and possibly even a WSL CT event.
For surfers born and raised on the island such as Josh Burke, these opportunities are dyer. Burke's campaign in 2017 left him just short of entering the QS 10,000 events by the slightest of margins and chasing points across the globe can be painstaking at times - most recently a Round One exit at the Burton Automotive Pro QS 6,000 in Australia. But, the 21-year-old knows the real importance of these events in his own backyard.
""It helps Barbados and the Caribbean so much to have these events, it's a must," Burke said. "Not only does it cut cost for the underrated Caribbean surfers, but it gives them the opportunity to watch some of the world's best. A solid new generation is coming up in Barbados and it's so good to see."
Che Allan is on his way to becoming a full-time threat on the QS level after a great Pro Junior career ended last season -- garnering two event wins and two trips to the World Junior Championship with a Quarterfinal finish his best -- and starting 2018 with multiple heat wins in Australia. Allan's already got one QS victory under his belt with a Thomo QS 1,000 victory at his home break of Soup Bowl to finish 2017.
"After being on the other side of the world for three months doing QS events, it's so good to have a big event at home where you're sleeping in your own bed," Allan said. "Surfing your home breaks and surrounded by your family and friends is hard to beat. There's a lot of young surfers coming up in Barbados and watching the best surfers in the world compete really inspires them to keep improving to get to that level."
The women are not to be left out as Chelsea Roett and Chelsea Tuach lead the charge as frontrunners to make the elite stage - a feat already established by Tuach in 2015. But, Tuach's stint on the Top 17 was short-lived and she now aims her sights high to return there. With Martinique also adding a women's QS 3,000 event to its schedule, the Caribbean is getting the spotlight it deserves on both fronts.
"Having the Barbados Surf Pro 3,000 back on schedule this year is a huge opportunity for the locals," Tuach said. "There's myself and the other Bajan surfers who are competing full time on the QS and looking to gain crucial points in our backyard. There's also the up-and-coming juniors who have some of the best surfers in the world performing on one of their favorite waves, showing them what can be done."
The Barbados Surf Pro QS3,000 will begin March 27 through April 1 at Drill Hall Beach, Barbados.