You are here
Sports

Surfing – The Bajan Surfing Invasion by Alan Burke

Surfing – The Bajan Surfing Invasion by Alan Burke
JAN 31,2017 @ 19:45

Adapted from Sporting Barbados Magazine - http://www.sportingbarbados.com/

Barbados has produced many world class surfers over the years. There are more Barbadian surfers on the Premier World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) than ever before quietly gaining a nick name "The Bajan Invasion" by the commentators and surfers alike.

Surfing as we know it, standing while riding a wave on the ”Modern” Surfboard began in Barbados in the early 60’s.

Surfboards in this era were garagemade by the local surfers and were constructed of hollow plywood material weighing in excess of 50 lbs! Leashes (a.k.a Shock Cords) were yet to be invented therefore resulting in numerous long swims to the beach to retrieve the damaged boards from the reef/rocks. The sport has come a long way since then with the introduction of Fibre glass boards and the improved competitive aspect from the late 60's and also the growth of many Surf schools. Surfing has evolved from a past time / hobby / beach bum image to a reputable Professional sport with over 23 million active surfers in over 100 countries world wide and now it will be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The sport of surfing is a multi billion dollar industry. Governments all over the world have become the primary sponsors for these Premier Pro surf events in an effort to capitalize on the rapidly growing surf tourism industry. Besides the influx of the competitive surfers,friends,family & supporters to our island ,these events attract massive viewership via LIVE webcast,coverage in the various surf medias and social media postings in addition to the postings by the Professional athletes themselves, many of whom have a tremendous base of followers. I believe the direction should be to host these elite events primarily to attract visitors to our shores and to provide an opportunity for our local athletes to showcase their talents while earning valuable rankings points to enhance their status in their pro careers and world rankings that ultimately benefit the country.

Oxford University economist researchers Thomas McGregor & Samuel Wills have completed recent studies that have shown that high quality waves generate economic activity worth US $50 billion per year globally approximately $20 billion per year for every region with quality surf nearby that consistently produces good waves. Barbados, our island, falls well under this demographic.

Sporting Barbados celebrates 20 years in producing a high quality Sporting Magazine and has promoted surfing consistently through the years. Prior to 1994 the annual Soup Bowl event in Bathsheba was a local National Championship and Caribbean Cup team event which then evolved to Pro surfing level. In 2007 global apparel & footwear brand REEF signed on to a three year contract with the Barbados Surfing Association to sponsor the annual Independence Pro which was a terrific boost. Although the 1991 Sprite Caribbean Cup had a record crowd, this kicked off a decade of high level performance pro surfing with a spectatorship in the tens of thousands over these years. It was held, of course, at one of the best surf spots in the world, Soup Bowl in Bathsheba. Eleven time World Champion and one of the greatest athletes of all time Kelly Slater (winner of the event in 2001) has our wave listed in his Auto biography as his 4th most favorite wave on this planet. This speaks volumes of which we Bajans can all be proud of.

The Soup Bowl Barbados Pro has become a favorite for aspiring pro surfers from all corners of the globe to participate in,mainly due to the friendly locals,relaxed vibe ,scenic environment and of course the amazing surf that is basically guaranteed during their visit.

Barbados has produced many world class surfers over the years. There are more Barbadian surfers on the Premier World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) than ever before quietly gaining a nick name "The Bajan Invasion" by the commentators and surfers alike with Josh Burke & Chelsea Tuach leading the charge, Tuach qualified for the WSL World Championship Women's tour for the 2016 year ,while Burke in his first full year on the WSL QS Men's tour is already qualifying in the QS 6000 events. Other invasion hopefuls are Chelsea Roett (WSL QS Women's), Bruce Mackie,Dane Mackie ,Che Allan,Jacob Burke and Zander Venezia actively competing in the QS Men's & WSL Juniors respectively.

The future for surfing is very bright along with the success currently being achieved by our surfers on tour and the Barbados Surfing Association is working continually to push this tremendous sport. This vibrant governing body for surfing in Barbados is focusing on providing opportunities for our up and coming preteens by hosting a series of local events known as the Surfer Of The Year (S.O.T.Y) and the annual WSL JR Men's & JR. Women's events for the past few years in addition to taking complete Junior teams every year to represent Barbados at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Surfing Championships.

Surfing has enormous potential to attract thousands to our shores and our young surfers are doing their utmost to get the Barbados brand out there! The future looks really bright!

 

The Soup Bowl Barbados Pro has become a favorite for aspiring pro surfers from all corners of the globe to participate in,mainly due to the friendly locals,relaxed vibe ,scenic environment and of course the amazing surf that is basically guaranteed during their visit.

 

     
Close