Two taking on waves
Tuach and Burke heading for big surfing event
Chelsea Tuach and Josh Burke will this week further showcase Barbados on the sporting map in one of the biggest international surfing events.
Tuach has lived the dream of qualifying one day for the World Surf League’s (WSL) World Championship Tour (WCT) that features the 17 best female surfers on the planet.
This week she will be given the opportunity of surfing with the world’s elite at the largest surf competition in the world –– the prestigious Vans US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, California.
Tuach earned this honour after her spectacular performance at the WSL 6000 Paul Mitchell Pro which was held at Oceanside last weekend. She progressed to the quarterfinal round with her powerful surfing where the final eight women of the 108 that started the competition would do battle.
Chelsea was the only surfer not on the Championship Tour to make it to this round and she faced one of the toughest competitors in Brazilian superstar, Silvana Lima. Chelsea and Lima exchanged similar waves throughout the heat with Silvana holding down a narrow lead until the dying seconds of the heat.
Chelsea needed a 4.4 to advance and earned a 4.5 to take the win.
“That was such a tough heat. No one wants to draw Silvana in a heat as she is such a great surfer. But I just tried to do my best on every wave and got the score I needed in the end. I am really happy right now,” Tuach said in her post-heat interview.
She was not as lucky in finding waves in her quarterfinal heat against defending champion Sage Erikson, ending fifth overall and earning 2,650 points. This result has kept Tuach at number 10 on the WSL World Qualification Series rankings, the highest ranking of a surfer from the North American region. This distinction earned Chelsea the wild card into the WSL World Championship Tour.
“This is a dream come true for me. To surf against the world’s elite in front of the largest crowd at the prestigious US Open means the world to me. I just want to thank God for this blessing and my coach Jim Hogan for always being there for me, and my sponsors Roxy, Dragon, Dakine, Chefette, Surfergirl Suncare and the Art and Sports Promotion Fund for helping to make this possible,” an elated Tuach said upon hearing the news.
Tuach is also competing in the Junior Pro event and earned a whopping 17.07 out of a possible 20 in her quarterfinal yesterday to advance to the semifinal that takes place on Saturday.
Meanwhile last Saturday in the men’s junior competition Burke rode three to five-foot surfs that allowed him to show his ability while advancing through rounds one and two and onto the quarterfinals of the event.
Only 64 surfers under 21 years-old from around the world make it into the event therefore making it the highest level event on the WSL junior tour. Every heat is stacked with potential event champions.
“From round one of this event everyone has to surf their very best. My round two heat I had Billabong team-mates and favourites Josh Moniz who was a finalist last year and Griffin Colapinto along with top Australian junior Kyuss King. It was a really inconsistent period for waves so I went out there to get two quick mid-range waves to then try to build on them. This was working until around the five-minute mark when Griffin got a good score bumping me into second.
“I had priority and Moniz needed a near eight-point ride which he is very capable of getting. So I stayed very close to him until the buzzer and was happy to advance through to the quarterfinals,” Burke stated.
Burke also received an invitation to participate in the men’s trials. Only 32 surfers get this chance with the top two finishers earning a slot into the main event of the men’s WQS 10,000 event where first place receives US$100 000 and the most valuable points to qualify on the elite WSL Men’s World Championship Tour.
Burke, an ambassador for Billabong Apparel and Reef Footwear, is also a team rider for Rich Price Surfboards, Futures Fins, Dakine Accessories and Vonzipper Eyewear, had a close heat and was eliminated in round one just needing a low score of 4.6 points and was unable to solidify in the dying seconds.
Another highlight for the Burke family was the inclusion of 15-year-old Jacob Burke who was the second youngest surfer in the US Open junior event this year and only the second Barbadian to have an opportunity to compete in the men’s event. Although he was eliminated in round one, Burke had an amazing experience and plans to build on this exposure.
“Besides the super high level at this event I have never seen so many people on a beach in my life before. It did play a bit on my nerves and it was such an honour to get in this event,” the younger Burke said.
He represents RVCA Apparel, Rich Price Surfboards, Dakine and Futures Fins.
Organizers expect online viewership of over 750,000 and in excess of 500,000 spectators to attend the 2015 Vans US Open of Surfing over the nine-day event.
Burke surfs his quarterfinal heat this Thursday about 4:30 p.m. Barbados time and can be viewed live at http://bit.ly/USOpen_Live.