It’s taking $170 000 to stage this year’s premier event on the Barbados Surfing Association’s (BSA) calendar but surfing officials say the island stands to rake in much more as scores of international surfers and their families descend on the island next month.
This is the view not only of a member of the BSA executive but of the defending girl’s champion of last year’s Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Sprite Soup Bowl Pro Junior.
“We[the event and the BSA] are probably going to be bringing upwards of over 200 people to Barbados from all over the world,” said BSA treasurer Louis Venezia.
He was speaking at a press conference to launch this year’s Independence Pro and the Junior ASP Soup Bowl Pro scheduled for November 13 to 16 at Bathsheba.
“The event has been up and on the ASP site for probably two weeks now and we have solidified half of the entries we are looking after. If we do end up getting the maximum amount of entries (64 boys and 24 girls), the ASP is prepared to add more entries to bring even more people to Barbados so along with the surfing it is a great tourist destination for the families to come,” Venezia explained.
He said the feedback from surfers and their families at the conclusion of last year’s event was that they had not just come for the surfing but to tour the island as well.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring Barbados to the world stage and to let the rest of the world know what kind of destination and what kind of tourist package we have here,” he said.
The treasurer said the executive was again looking at streaming the four-day competition live on the internet and revealed that last year’s live streaming saw 50 000 people viewing the surfing.
Barbados Olympic Association member Erskine Simmons commended the association for hosting the event and said: “It is going to be an event that will bring large numbers of athletes and their families to Barbados which is the concept which we wish to have where you have a lot of top athletes come to Barbados to compete against our athletes and give them the competition they need,” he said.
President Chris Clarke revealed junior surfers from the Caribbean, as well as from Hawaii, United States, Costa Rica, Peru and Chile had signaled their intention to surf the Soup Bowl pro-rated event.
“The reason we brought the ASP here last year is because we have some very talented juniors who have to travel all the time to be on the world stage and we thought it would be good to have an event at their home town,” he explained.
So far 26 boys, 15 of whom took part in last year’s event, as well as 11 girls, have so far confirmed their attendance.
Barbados’ charge will be led by Chelsea Tuach, the defending champion on the ASP Junior Pro event, and Jonathon Reece, who was the last local champion in the November Independence Pro.
So far, last year’s sponsor Sprite is back, as well as Jada, B’s Recycling, container Services Ltd, Banks, Chefette as well as the BOA and the Barbados Tourism Authority but the BSA officials said getting sponsorship had been extremely difficult.