- WSL / asher nolan
Remembering Zander Venezia: Live Like Zander Junior Pro
Family and friends look back on what Zander Venezia meant to them and honoring him with the Live Like Zander Junior Pro.

Nearly 10 years ago, a young Barbados boy talked to his father while en route to claiming a Quarterfinal result at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Junior Pro in Florida. Zander Venezia then asked a question of his father, Louis, that would ultimately send the WSL to its iconic shores.

"The waves were good at that contest until the Quarterfinals and then they dropped off to about knee-high and he struggled because he couldn't paddle as hard as the other kids just yet," said Venezia. "And Quarters are a great result for an 11-year-old but he wasn't satisfied (laughs). And he said to me, why can't we have a contest like this at a wave like Soup Bowl. And that's what sparked my interest."

Venezia then teamed up with Christopher Clarke who asked him about such an event in years prior and the seed was planted for the Soup Bowl Junior Pro in 2013. The event ran successfully each passing year, crowning the top Pro Juniors from North America and playing the ultimate decider toward World Junior Championships before a day that changed Barbados' surfing community forever.

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, his family, and everyone who came into contact with Zander continue to reflect and celebrate Zander's life each new day. - WSL / Andrew Nichols

September 5, 2017 is a day that the island of Barbados felt like an earthquake. Zander was among a handful of surfers charging at the wave known then as "Box-by-Box" before tragedy struck.

"On the day of the accident," added Venezia. "Zander was on his way to the beach and there was somebody who had lost their board. He actually turned around and paddled back out to help them, and got caught inside."

Now, this event embodies everything that Zander represented. His love for life, the ocean, and celebrating competition with his peers. The region's top competitors continue to come down each year, save for 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, and honor Zander's life in and out of the water.

The Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia pres. by Diamonds International will be LIVE beginning March 28 - April 3.

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