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STREET BEAT: Beach culture

Carlos Atwell, carlosatwell

STREET BEAT: Beach culture

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SILVER SANDS is about to see more action than ever.

Brian Talma is poised to introduce the inaugural Beach Culture World Championships – ten days of surfing, conch blowing and the beach lifestyle.

But the championships are just a small part of what Talma is trying to do.

“I am celebrating 30 years of successfully promoting Barbados’ beach life, which brings a lot of economic benefits to Barbados,” he told Street Beat. Even though I have been doubted every step of the way, I have always believed windsurfing would become the dominant force in the tourism sector and in the 90s, I helped transform this beach here in Silver Sands.

“Now, I have a vision to use water sports to revolutionise this island and one of the facets I have really pushed is community tourism. Surfers are the opinion leaders of tourism, we are adventurers and when we go to a place, tourists and others follow. What I sell is a lifestyle which I call beach culture.”

Talma said he was working to involve local businesses with the surfing and fishing community to make a marketable product and show the world Barbados’ beach culture. This was something he wanted to drive year round but said the championships, which will run from February 24 to March 4, would be a focal point.

“We will have some of the leading photographers and magazine writers coming here for the only lifestyle championships in the world. There will be both professional and amateur events across the island and will include beach cricket, conch blowing and wind, paddle and kite surfing. I believe this area can be one of the major cultural sites in Barbados,” he said.

One of the major partners in the venture is London Bar. Proprietor Craig Sargeant said the aim was to promote the island.

“I came up with the sea. My first surfboard was given to me by Talma. Our aim is to promote Barbados’ beach culture as a brand. You have people visiting here who do not see the true potential Barbados had so we want people to continually come. We need to push tourism harder, I s not just about cruise ships and entertainment, we need to show tourists everything we have to offer,” he said.

Sargeant said they would be showing the incoming professional surfers how Barbadians could lie as both a surfing and fishing community. Outside the competition, he said they had plans for rum punch night and bar limes to name a couple, adding it was a long term venture. He said local businesses such as Buffy’s Bar, Chicken Shop Rita and the Fish Net Bar & Grill were all on board and there was room for more.

“Silver Sands is rich in history, it is about even more than fishing and surfing. Did you know the Arawak’s settled here? That is what we are about: continuity and history,” he said.

Talma took the team for a quick tour of the neighbourhood. He stopped at the home of a man who often rents rooms to the visiting surfers Talma brings in. Though not wishing to be identified, he said Talma’s praises.

“We’ve had surfers coming in for quite a while and they are often repeat visitors. They are like friends now, part of the community. Brian is wonderful, he is the backbone of this community,” he said.

One of those repeat visitors is Barney Huycke from Ontario, Canada. He said he had been coming to Barbados since 1988 and would continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

“We come for the wind, the sunshine and the people. We live in Canada so we like the warmth and when you have been coming for so long you make friends from all over the world as well as with locals, Besides, even if the wind is down, the beautiful thing about this island s that there is so much to do,” he said.

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