Barbadian Che Allan booked his place at the World Junior Surfing Championships after qualifying for the final of the World Surf League (WSL) Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia at the Soup Bowl on Sunday.
It was special finals day as Americans Cole Houshmand and Kirra Pinkerton were crowned champions.
The San Clemente, California sweep earned both Houshmand and Pinkerton their first ever Pro Junior wins in amazing fashion.
Pinkerton’s win moved her up the rankings to No. 2 and clinched a spot into the World Junior Surfing Championships over fellow American Samantha Sibley.
Conditions proved tricky for competitors as Soup Bowl’s shifting peaks continued to surprise, but the best was saved for last.
The men’s Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory Of Zander Venezia final witnessed the waves turn on in the opening stages and offered one last flurry of waves at the end that ultimately earned Houshmand a massive win.
“That was such a crazy final and to win my first pro junior event at Soup Bowl is amazing,” Houshmand said. “The people, this wave, this place as a community is incredible and I can’t imagine a better way to end this year. This win is so special just being in memory of Zander [Venezia] – it’s a big honour to earn this one.”
With Gunter and Allan both making the final, each of them have punched their tickets to the World Junior Championships as Allan finished ranked No. 3 and Gunter No. 4 – joining North America regional junior champion Ryland Rubens and No. 2 John Mel.
Prior to the men’s final, the junior women had a remarkable concluding event of their own that witnessed Pinkerton take down Americans No. 1 ranked Alyssa Spencer, No. 2 ranked Samantha Sibley and an in-form Rachel Presti.
Pinkerton’s incredible finals performance earned her a maiden junior tour win.
“It feels amazing to win my first junior event and to do it here is extremely special,” Pinkerton said. “I saw a left that Rachel [Presti] got in her semi-final heat and when that left came in the beginning I just had to give it a shot, which worked out great.”
In honour of the late Zander Venezia, the Venezia family founded the Zander Venezia Foundation to aid and assist disabled and underprivileged children throughout Barbados.
“Zander’s short but incredible time here on Earth has had a ripple effect on so many people, crossing borders of nationality and age,” Zander’s father, Louis, said. “All the donations will go directly to helping these children that Zander was touched so deeply by, causing that ripple effect to become a tidal wave of love for the less fortunate.” (PR/HG)