Bajans impress on the surf
Barbados’ Chelsea Roett and Che Allan were impressive on the waves at the recent Barbados Surfing Association’s 33rd Independence Pro Surf and Soup Bowl Junior Surf contest.
The event is a World Surf League’s Junior Men and Women’s Pro 1,000 which the Barbados Surfing Association has hosted for the past four years offering the best 18 and under youth from various countries the chance to increase their point totals for the 2017 season.
The Independence Pro Open Men’s final was one of the most exciting finals of the contest and included two of Barbados’ top surfers in Josh Burke and Che Allan, the Under-18 national champion and surfer of the year points leader, along with two Americans vying for the Championship Soup Bowl Trophy. In spite of the challenging conditions the heat was filled with impressive aerial surfing with Jake Marshall from the USA claiming the win, closely followed by Burke, Allan and Chauncey Robinson.
The Open Women’s final was dominated by Roett, one of Barbados’ top surfers and current Open Women’s national champion. From her first wave, Roett stamped her mark with an 8.0 point ride displaying her skill and local knowledge of the break while showing that she came to win.
“Conditions were tough throughout the day and it was not easy to find waves that offered high scoring potential so I was so happy when my first wave came through and gave me the opportunity for an excellent score,” Roett said.
“All of these girls are capable of getting good scores, so I had to make sure to get an early start.”
Roett’s strategy proved worthy and gained her the championship followed by Samantha Sibley, Autumn Hays and Bethany Zelasko all from the USA. Roett was elated to win the Independence Pro Open Women’s this year with Barbados celebrating its 50th anniversary of Independence.
On the Junior Men’s side, Allan claimed his first-ever Soup Bowl Pro WSL title and in doing so earned his first-ever WSL Junior Tour victory with a trip to the World Junior Championships in January in Australia. Allan used his local knowledge to his advantage finding some gems for a massive victory over Nolan Rapoza, Jake Marshall and Chauncey Robinson.
“I just can’t believe it. I wasn’t really focusing on the numbers until just before the final when my dad told me I needed to win or get runner-up. Knowing that, I just wanted to go out there and get total control of the heat right away. I’m just so happy to come away with a win.” Allan said.
In the WSL Junior women, Leilani McGonagol from Costa Rica won for the first time in her WSL Junior Tour career. It was a talent-stacked final with Maddie Peterson, Sibley and Zelasko, with both Peterson and Zelasko having a chance to take over the WSL North America number 2 spot from McGonagol. Midway through the final, Peterson took the lead but with just a few minutes remaining, McGonagol reclaimed the lead to the end to claim a vital win. This victory moved her above Alyssa Spencer allowing her to claim the North America Junior Women’s Regional title.
“I’m just stoked and beyond happy with that win when I needed it the most,” McGonagol said afterwards.
The Under-16 final was an intense and exciting climax to that division, with Kade Madson from California, well known champion in Surfing America series, NSSA, WSA and Rip Curl Grom searches, snatching the lead in the dying seconds of the heat from local boy Zander Venezia who is currently the Barbados Open Men’s national champion, and ranked 2nd in surfing American in Under-16 (national team qualifying series), third was Kyle Tester, another well decorated surfer from New Jersey, and fourth was Sebastian Mendez from California
The BSA also focused on the youth at the Independence Pro, with an Under-12 division, showcasing many of the younger local, Caribbean and international talents. The finalists were Ryan Huckabee from Flagler Beach, Florida, who won the division and is also the current surfing America Under-12 points leader, second was Robbie Goodwin, also from Florida and the reigning Surfing America under-12 national champion, third and fourth were Kai St George, Barbados’ national Under-12 champion, and Erin Stanley, who is leading the Under-12 Barbados Surfer of the Year standings.
On closing the contest Louis Venezia of the Barbados Surfing Association expressed gratitude to all the local and international competitors for once again coming to compete in the Barbados Independence Pro.
“Having the best surfers in the world who are at the top of the rankings for each division here in Soup Bowl is fantastic. The display of surfing is always welcome, and I would also like to take this opportunity to mention that Barbados was well represented and had a Bajan surfer in every final with the exception of the WSL Junior Women. That is a great milestone,” Venezia noted. The event was sponsored by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., Sprite, Banks Beer, Chefette Restaurants and Ry’s On the Beach.