Updated: Aug 16, 2022
A massive finals day crowned Chelsea Tuach, Michael Dunphy, Caitlin Simmers, and Alan Cleland respective victors at the World Surf League (WSL) North America Qualifying Series (QS) Barbados Surf Pro QS 3,000 and Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia presented by Diamonds International.
Soup Bowl delivered more three-to-five foot swell for competitors to unleash their dynamic surfing and four rose to the top by day's end.
It was a day for Barbados to celebrate as Tuach earned her first QS event title on home soil, her fourth WSL Soup Bowl title, against an in-form Sawyer Lindblad (USA), who earned double Final appearances at Soup Bowl.
The island's own had a slight edge on the San Clemente, California competitor before unloading her forehand attack on a gem that she struck multiple times to accrue an excellent 8.33 (out of a possible 10) and 15.17 (out of possible 20) heat total.
Lindblad was left searching for a near-perfect 9.87 but Soup Bowl didn't provide her the canvas and Tuach notched a historic win for her local crowd. (Full interview in video)
"I felt Zander's (Venezia) presence and I felt the love in that Final and that wave came to me," said Tuach. "Thanks so much to everyone here cheering me on, it means so much and I'm so happy to win this one. I felt like in every heat I was just thinking one more Chel, just put two waves together."
This marks Tuach's fifth-career QS win and secures her spot for the 2022 Challenger Series alongside Lindblad.
Following the women's performance, the men took over the lineup and sparks flew between eventual winner Dunphy and event threat Cole Houshmand.
A brilliant exchange at the 20-minute sent the men's Final into overdrive as Houshmand's lethal backhand decimated a set wave to earn an excellent 8.60 (out of a possible 10) before Dunphy responded immediately with a 8.17 of his own.
But, the work wasn't done and Dunphy's final attempt earned him a 6.87, needing a 6.80, and left Houshmand waiting for one last chance as time expired. (Full interview in video)
"I want to dedicate this win to Zander, he was such a good kid and this event means a lot to me and all of us," said Dunphy. "To take the win is a bonus. This wave is one of my favorite waves in the world and I just wanted to treat the heats just to go out there and enjoy it."
This win secured Dunphy's place atop the North America rankings as he leads the regional charge heading into the 2022 Challenger Series with Houshmand secured alongside him.
Event standout Cleland was unstoppable in both the Barbados Surf Pro and Live Like Zander Junior Pro, nearly making both Finals. But, after facing elimination from Dunphy in the QS, Cleland turned all his energy into the juniors and unleashed his vicious forehand attack to earn a massive 17.34 heat total.
The Pascuales, Mexico competitor had to overcome a formidable field featuring event threats Tao Rodriguez, Owen Moss, and Taro Watanabe.
Each surfer garnered near-excellent scores on their first exchange with Rodgriguez and Watanabe both earning a 7.57, and Moss a 7.67 before Cleland answered with an excellent 8.67.
Just four-minutes later, Cleland struck again to earn a 7.57 and seize control of the heat before finding one last excellent score and putting the Final out of reach in the dying minutes.
"This means everything and it's an honor to win this in memory of Zander," said Cleland. "I'm dedicating this one to him and Lou, and the Venezia family for everything they continue to do. Starting from yesterday, everything was a win for me whether I won or not. To share that lineup with a few guys out and then just one other guy is super special to me. I just wanted to enjoy every moment."
A remarkable finals day run for Simmers ended in glory with her fourth-career Pro Junior victory.
The 16-year-old started her day with a perfect 10-point ride and 19.17 heat total before a stacked Final with former event winner Kirra Pinkerton, 2022 double event finalist Lindblad, and Costa Rica's in-form Rubiana Brownell.
Pinkerton garnered an early lead and looked on her way to another win before Lindblad turned it up a notch to earn a 14.70 heat total, leaving Simmers in need of a solid score.
But, the Oceanside, California competitor answered back and dropped a 7.53 to overtake the lead before the final horn sounded.
"It means a lot to win this event," said Simmers. "That was a pretty stressful heat just being a little slow and I fell on a few waves. Then Sawyer (Lindblad) dropped a 14-point total so that was stressing and then I just tried to get into a rhythm. I just tried to calm myself down in those last few minutes and be patient, then that wave came so I was really happy I got that opportunity."
Breitling came into the event with two of their signature watches for the Barbados Surf Pro top performers. Houshmand's Semifinal performance earned him a 17.10 heat total along with the title of Breitling Top Performer and Zoe Benedetto Round of 16 breakthrough, garnering a 16.34 total, earned her Breitling Top Performer.
The Barbados Surf Pro marked North America's 2021/22' QS season conclusion to finalize Challenger Series qualifiers and final rankings.
The next QS event will be the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS 1,000 at Huntington Beach, California beginning April 28 - May 1.