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Leading Caribbean Male Surfer

At just three years old, Barbadian surfer, Josh Burke, was drawn by the allure of riding towering waves and surfing the island’s seas. Born into a family of champion surfers, it seemed only natural that he continue the legacy which was established by family members years before. His father, Alan Burke, is a former champion surfer at both national and international levels. Since 1993, he has been successfully operating Burkie’s Surf School where he and his team are committed to sharing their passion for the waves with a new generation.   

Alan has played a key role in developing Josh’s skill and preparing him to compete all across the world. Known for his daring aerial stunts, Josh’s phenomenal talent has seen him raising the colours of Barbados in several countries including Japan, Panama, Australia and France. 

Big brands such as Reef and Billabong have recognised Josh’s work on the waves and saw him to be an ideal global ambassador. Through his partnership with Billabong, in 2014 Josh had the opportunity to travel to Tahiti where he trained at Teahupo’o, known to be the most dangerous wave in the world. 

At Home in Barbadian Waves

The ocean to some is just water, to me it’s where I maintain my peace,” Josh once stated. It would be an understatement to say that Josh feels comfortable amongst the waves and tides of the Barbadian seas. He loves to practise and train others at several locations across the island but the challenging waves of Bathsheba in the East Coast are undoubtedly his favourite. “Soup Bowl is one of the best waves in the world,” Josh said of the world-class surfing site. 

The Soup Bowl is beloved by surfers due to its signature high waves and barrels throughout most of the year. Veteran surfer, Kelly Slater, has even said that the Soup Bowl ranks in his top three favourite waves, worldwide.

Josh’s Successes

In 2011, though just 14 years old at that time, Josh was selected to represent Barbados at the Quiksilver King Of The Grom US surf series.  During his preparation, the teen told the media,  “I will try my very best and will be flying my Barbados flag.” This sentiment still holds true for the champion surfer as he continues to proudly represent the island. 

As testament to his skill, in 2013, Josh rightfully received the immense honour of being selected to represent Barbados, the entire Caribbean, Central and South America at Quiksilver King of the Groms in France. Here, amongst the best in the world, Josh proudly captured the eighth position.

After more years of developing his skills and international showings, Josh went on to place 5th at the WSL WRV Qualifying Series 1000 event in Outer Banks (OBX) North Carolina in September 2018. This experience further bolstered Burke’s dynamic surfing career as the 21-year-old now ranked 3rd in WSL North American Rankings. Speaking on this success, Josh reflected on the challenges of preparing for an event of this magnitude. “I went into the OBX event needing a good result, something higher than a 9th in order to increase my points. It was a bit of pressure I put on myself and it seemed to work although obviously, I wanted to win, but a 5th in these events I am happy with."

Josh’s Injuries & Recoveries

Josh continued to make waves as he became the first Barbadian to qualify for the most anticipated event on the World Surf League (WSL) Men's Qualifying Series (QS) tour the Volcom Pipe Pro 3000 in Oahu, Hawaii. Shortly before this 2019 event, the young surfer sustained a serious injury, which greatly impacted his performance. Onlookers even described his showing as “the biggest and scariest wipeout in Volcom history.” Though terrifying, Josh recovered and recordings of this performance quickly went viral across many social media platforms. Well wishes and support from across the world quickly poured in, motivating Josh to come back even stronger. 

Inspiring a New Generation of Surfers

In 2017, the surfing community in Barbados transformed the local surf calendar by staging the inaugural Barbados Surf Pro. As expected, Josh was elated that his island was making such massive strides.  He noted, “Having a QS3000 in Barbados is a huge deal as it will bring 100 surfers from around the world. We have amazing talent here in Barbados and usually we all have to travel overseas in order to compete in official WSL events.” Josh saw this as a great opportunity for his home country to welcome new talent and further expose even more surfers to the wonders of Barbadian waves. “We have the best set up here in Barbados with waves in every category and it is great that now other surfers can be introduced to the great beaches and wave set up we have here.” 

The event had a huge impact and saw over 150 pro surfers landing in Barbados to be part of the surfing action. Without a doubt, Josh represented his country well, confidently handling the waves of Drill Hall Beach and impressing the more than 80,000 international viewers who streamed the events online. Speaking proudly about the importance of similar locally hosted events, Josh noted, “It helps Barbados and the Caribbean so much to have these events, it's a must," Burke said. "Not only does it cut costs for the underrated Caribbean surfers, but it gives them the opportunity to watch some of the world's best.” Josh believes that it is important to motivate the upcoming generation of surfers in Barbados by showing them the power and fame of the island’s waters. “It's also inspiring for all the local kids to watch the QS tour surfers from around the world surf their home break, teaching them lots while making them look at the wave differently. They see what can possibly be done on the wave.”

The adrenaline rush of commanding some of the world’s most robust waves and the joy of repeatedly stamping his country’s name in history books help to drive Josh Burke’s passion for the sport he loves. Though it may seem risky to some, Josh is comfortable in the water as he has been ably guided through the tides from his toddler years by the best in Barbados- his dad. With his undeniable talent, charming, charisma and love for his country, we are sure to see Josh breaking records and riding high. 

Career Highlights

2018- First Barbadian to be awarded the World Surf League 10,000 QS wild card into the Ballito Durban South Africa Event 

2019 August: 37th place -First Barbadian Surfer to Qualify in the Men’s main round at the WSL US OPEN of SURFING 10000, Huntington Beach California.

2019 September: 13th-WSL WRV 1000 North Carolina, First Barbadian surfer to ever score a perfect 10 in a surfing event.

2020 February:

WSL Volcom Pipe Pro 3000 First and only Barbadian to ever qualify at this venue, Pipeline Hawaii, the most famous and dangerous wave in the World.

 Fun Facts

  1. Burke’s Beach in St. Michael is named after Josh’s family and is his favourite beach in Barbados. 
  2. Josh’s favourite surf spot is the Soup Bowl. 
  3. In his spare time, Josh tends to his kitchen garden where he grows fresh local veggies.
  4. When he’s not surfing, Josh enjoys a game of badminton with his brother, Jacob. 
  5. One of Josh’s favourite hang out spots is Stoutee’s in Chancery Lane,  a small canteen that serves up tasty local delicacies such as fishcakes, rotis and of course, ice-cold beers.