- WSL / Andrew Nichols

The stakes have been raised in the island nation of Barbados. World Surf League (WSL) North America announced that the Barbados Surf Pro, the final event of the North America 2022/23 Qualifying Series (QS), upgraded from a QS 3,000 to a QS 5,000. This event will run March 27 - April 2 and include the fifth edition of the Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia.

One of the world's premier reef breaks of Soup Bowl now boasts 5,000 points to up the stakes as North America's final, regional stop.

"To have this upgrade is a dream and to have the biggest surfing event in the English speaking Caribbean ever was just a thought 10 years ago," said Barbados Surf Promotions Ltd. Co-Founder Christopher Clarke. "It was a tough road to get here with my partner Louis Venezia, with special thanks to the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., and Barbados Surfing Association for helping make it a reality. It is a big deal to also celebrate the life of our beloved Zander Venezia by keeping the Junior event as a memorial of him."

"Being able to give our local surfers a chance to raise their level with this quality of event is an amazing opportunity," added Clarke. "We have had many competitors come to this event over the years and the ones that have won have paved their way to a very successful surfing careers. Hopefully Mother Nature gives us some good vibes and swells to go along with this dream."

Bathsheba, Barbados - April 1: Caleb Rapson (USA) surfs in Heat 3 of Quarterfinals of the Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia on April 1, 2022, in Bathsheba, Barbados. (Photo by Andrew Nichols/ World Surf League) One of 2022's event standouts and Barbados' own, Caleb Rapson, looks to shake up the rankings once more at home. - WSL / Andrew Nichols

The upgrade increases the prize purse to $50,000, $25,000 for both men and women, offering the winner $10,000 and 5,000 critical points. The event started as a QS 3,000 on the south coast of Barbados' island nation, at Drill Hall Beach, in 2017 & 2018 before returning as a QS 3,000 in 2022 at the famed wave of Soup Bowl. Located on the island's East Coast, Bathsheba plays host to the conclusion of the regional QS season once more after Barbados' own Chelsea Tuach earned her first QS victory in home waters.

"For the Barbados Surf Pro to receive such a major upgrade from QS 3,000 to QS 5,000 speaks volumes to the quality of Barbados' surfing circuit and shows the world that Barbados is indeed a premier sporting destination," said BTMI Director, Caribbean and Latin America, Sport, Corey Garrett. "Sports is a substantial pillar in our marketing strategy as we continuously diversify the island's tourism product. Our goal is to build a sustainable destination that visitors can enjoy all 365 days so sports like surfing are essential to this mission."

Barbados Surf Pro: Chelsea Tuach Earns Historic Win on Home Soil
The three-time Soup Bowl junior winner now claims her first-ever QS victory at home for the event pres. by Diamonds International.

Now, Tuach, along with the likes of Josh Burke, Chelsea Roett, Caleb Rapson, and more will try to keep the event titles at home.

"The connection I feel towards Soup Bowl is hard to put into words so I feel very grateful for every chance I get to compete out there and every chance I get to share it with surfers from across our region," said Tuach. "The win last year was a breakthrough for me. I let a lot of the noise go and got to enjoy the entire process, reminding myself of why I love competing. It was the most special win of my career and I can't wait to put the jersey back on at home in 2023, especially knowing it's been upgraded to the biggest QS event in our region. I can't wait for Soup Bowl to turn on for everybody."

Three more women's events remain on the 2022/23' season, along with four men's, but, with 5,000 points on the line, anything can happen as competitors look to qualify for the 2023 Challenger Series at their shot toward Championship Tour (CT) qualification.

"We look forward to welcoming both the international surfers, fans and sports enthusiasts to Barbados in March to enjoy the Barbados Surf Pro and also all of the culinary, heritage and other experiences the destination has to offer," added Garrett.

The Barbados Surf Pro QS 5,000 and Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Loving Memory of Zander Veneiza will run in an event window beginning March 27 - April 2 at Soup Bowl, located in Bathsheba, Barbados.

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