Barbados’ Sports Tourism Ambassador, Chelsea Tuach, was at her surfing best Sunday, winning the World Surf League Shoe City Pro at Huntington Beach, California.
This is the first event of the 2017 World Surf League’s Qualification Series and proved to be a dream start for Tuach.
Barbados’ top twenty rated international surfer was impressive throughout the event, showing off her powerful backhand and dropping the highest single wave score of the women’s event, a nine out of ten in her quarterfinal heat which she dominated against Hawaiian Mainei Kinimaka and USA surfers Rachel Presti and Alexxa Elseewi.
In her semifinal heat she dispatched Hawaiian surfers Bailey Nagy and Kinimaka, progressing to the final alongside the event’s wild card, USA’s up and coming Samantha Sibley, to face off against two other USA surfers, reigning ISA world champion, Tia Blanco, and former Olympian, Kaleigh Gilchrist.
Tuach emerged victorious with a two wave total of 14.30 to Sibley’s 13.27. Blanco was third with a heat total of 12.56 and Gilchrist fourth with 7.10.
Sibley took full advantage of the opportunity given to her all the way to the final. The 14-year-old kept her dream run alive with a massive performance in the semifinals, topping Tuach, and then getting off to an early lead before Tuach responded in terrific fashion to secure the victory.
“This win means the world to me and I just want to thank God, my sponsors Suzuki Caribbean, Sol, the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and Dragon. Thanks also to all of my Barbadian supporters for continuing to believe in me and encourage me. This win has renewed my belief in my ability and given me greater confidence as I head into the Australian leg of the season next month,” said an elated Tuach shortly after emerging from her heat victory.
Tuach had entered the event looking to recover her top form after ending last year somewhat off her usual quality. The win will now give her the impetus for a major year ahead.
“It feels so good to start off the year with a win after feeling a lot of nerves at the end of last year so this is amazing,” Tuach said. “It was great to surf my way through some rounds and I had a lot of confidence going into that final already having a few heats under my belt. I felt like I was in a good rhythm with a good game plan and it all fell into place, just like old times.
“I’ll stay in California for a while and get some training in while working on some boards with Matt Barron before heading over to Australia for those QS6,000’s. I’ll be working on my technique more than anything – no heat strategy, nothing like that, just get my form really dialed in. I’m feeling fresh again for those events which feels great and can’t wait to get the year really off and running,” Tuach said.