Leading Caribbean Female Surfer

Surfing in Barbados is an all-year activity, with top athletes from around the world travelling to this tropical island to conquer the large waves that are especially characteristic of the East Coast. But there are also professional surfers who call Barbados ‘home’, and one such outstanding surfer is national champion,  international surfing sensation Chelsea Tuach and ambassador of Barbados.

Chelsea was born into a family of surfers. Her siblings all surf and her brothers also represented Barbados at local, regional and international competitions. Her parents are no strangers to the sport – her father surfs and her mother is an internationally certified surf judge. It was, therefore, no surprise when Chelsea started surfing in 2004. At just 8 years old, she demonstrated an extraordinary fearlessness, dominating monster waves and impressing her onlookers. It was then that she drew significant attention, winning local awards and, in 2006, she was the youngest surfer to be selected for the Barbados National Surf Team at 10 years old. At age 13, she had won both the Barbados Ladies’ Open and the Caribbean Ladies’ Championship, confirming that she was certainly an athlete to be watched! 

5  Interesting Facts about Chelsea

Chelsea is a highly decorated athlete and has won more international awards than any other Barbadian surfer. She has taken over the local and regional women’s surfing circuit and her participation in the sport has seen her competing in tournaments around the globe. She has successfully represented Barbados throughout the Caribbean and also in countries such as Costa Rica, the United States of America, Martinique, South Africa and across Europe. In 2009, she became the first surfer to win the National Sports Council Youth Award in Barbados, a nod to her accomplishments in surfing during 2008. In 2011, the ‘Barbados Surfer Girl’, as she is affectionately called, placed 9
th in the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Surfing Championships. It was the highest ranking that a Barbadian or Caribbean surfer had achieved since the introduction of that competition in 2003. In 2012, Chelsea went on to win an impressive 7 competitions outside of Barbados – more than was ever recorded in the history of Barbadian surfing. 

Chelsea has consistently been Barbados’ top surfer at the international level. She made history twice in 2013 when she became the first Barbadian to win the World Surf League’s (WSL) North American Junior Women’s Championship. She then went on to win a junior pro event with the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), again being the first Barbadian to secure that prize. Not only did Chelsea make history for Barbados that year, but again for the Caribbean. In 2013, she was the first Caribbean surfer to qualify for the ASP World Junior Surfing Championships where she rose to prominence and out-surfed many top international athletes, ending in 3rd position overall.

Chelsea was the only Barbadian to win medals for short board surfing at the ISA championships. She won copper in both the World Junior Championships in 2013 and then at the World Surfing Games in 2015. Her participation in the WSL’s World Qualification Series earned her a world ranking of 4th at the end of 2015, which was the highest achievement for any Caribbean surfer. This ranking was due to her success in the highest rated and most competitive women’s surfing events held in China, California and Spain. By this time, Chelsea had clearly demonstrated that she had no intention of stopping short of her World Championship goals or being comfortable with her current accolades. And so, in 2016, she rode those top-class, prestigious waves with the WSL’s World Championship Tour which is only open to the top 17 females globally. Chelsea was the second youngest surfer on that tour and Barbados was the smallest nation to be represented at that level of surfing. It was after that tour that she was recognised by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc for her international success, and she was bestowed with the title of Sports Tourism Ambassador for Barbados in 2017.

Our ‘Barbados Surfer Girl’ continued to ride her waves of success in international surfing. She won the WSL’s first Qualification Series contest in 2017, and ended that season ranked at #2 on the North American rankings, and in the top 24 of the world’s professional female surfers. This latter world ranking improved to #19 in the following year when she was declared the women’s champion at the Martinique Surf Pro, where she also retained her position as the #2 ranked surfer in the North American region. Her impressive performances at the Pan American Surfing Games in 2017 and 2018 resulted in Chelsea being the only Barbadian surfer to enter the region’s qualifier event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

Her wins continued in 2019 when she grabbed 1st place at the VW South Africa Open of Surfing, once more creating history by being the 1st person from the Caribbean to win a contest on the African continent. This meant that Chelsea once again moved up the WSL international rankings to #9. Chelsea’s career has been nothing less than remarkable over the last 15+ years. She has confidently captivated the local, regional and international surfing fraternities while flying the Barbados flag high at every opportunity. Her discipline, commitment and love for the sport, along with her drive for excellence, have placed her and Barbados in the surfing limelight. Judging by her distinctive and exceptionally consistent record, it’s safe to say that we still have more to come from Chelsea Tuach.

Selected Awards/Achievements

2018 – Barbados’ Senior Outstanding Sportsperson 

2017 – Barbados’ Sports Tourism Ambassador

2015 – Highest ranking Caribbean Surfer (World Ranking 4th)

2015 – World Surf League’s North American Junior Women’s Champion

2014 – Barbados’ Sports Personality of the Year 

2013 – World Surf League’s North American Junior Women’s Champion

2013 – Junior Female Athlete of the Year (Barbados Olympic Association)

2013 – Barbados National Sports Personality of the Year

2012 – Junior Female Athlete of the Year (Barbados Olympic Association)

Selected 1st Place Championships (2012-2019)

2019 – SA Open of Surfing (South Africa)

2018 – Martinique Surf Pro (Martinique)

2017 – Shoe City Pro (California)

2015 – Sprite Barbados Independence Pro (Barbados)

2015 – Pantin Classic Galicia Pro (Spain)

2014 – Corona Extra Pro Circuit #3 (Puerto Rico)

2014 – Sprite Soup Bowl Pro Junior (Barbados)

2013 – Sprite Soup Bowl Pro Junior (Barbados)

2013 – Barbados Independence Pro (Barbados)

2013 – APSS Event #1 (California)

2013 – NSSA Gold Coast Explorer (California)

2013 – Ron Jon Roxy Pro Junior (Florida)

2013 – NSSA Southwest Conference #9 (California)

2012 – NSSA Southwest Conference #5 (California)

2012 – Ripcurl Gromsearch (California)

2012 – Viridian Women Pro (Virginia)

2012 – Caribbean Cup Ladies Championship (Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados)

2012 – Makka Pro 2012 (Jamaica)

2012 – BSA SOTY (Barbados – four 1st place awards)

2012 – Olympus National Surf Circuit (Costa Rica – two 1st place awards)

2012 – Ron Jon Roxy Women’s Pro (Florida)