Barbadian Chelsea Tuach carved out another piece of history for herself when she qualified for the historic surfing competition at next year’s Pan American Games, by reached the semi-finals of the Pan American Surfing Games in Punta Rocas, Peru.
Battling international rivals throughout three rounds, over two full days of action in the competition which got underway Monday and serves as a qualifier for the Pan Am Games in Lima, the 23-year-old Tuach produced a series of outstanding performances to emerge among the best of the pack.
She will now do battle in the semi-finals on Saturday.
“This is a dream come true for me,” Tuach said after her round three heat.
“I came to Peru not only to represent my country but to qualify for the Pan American Games in Lima next year which will feature 20 of the best male and female surfers from the region.
“It feels so good when you achieve a major goal that you have set for yourself after all the sacrifice, hard work and expense. Now I will be cheering on my teammates — Josh Burke and Che Allan — who will be competing from Thursday.”
Competing in the very first heat of the opening day, Tuach progressed in second behind Canada’s Mathea Olin, who won the bronze medal to Tuach’s silver at this event last year.
Eliminated from the event was the number five ranked surfer, Josefina Ane from Argentina and Susana Barrezuela from Ecuador, who ended the heat in third and fourth respectively.
Heat 12 saw another Barbadian, Chelsea Roett, competing against Argentinian surfer, Lucía Indurain, Canadian Paige Alms and Michelle Soriano from Ecuador.
Indurain and Alms both got quick starts and were able to maintain their lead to the end, despite a valiant come back effort from Roett who was chasing a score of just five points before time ran out, leaving her in third place ahead of the Ecuadorian surfer but eliminated from the event in 25th place.
Tuach came out blazing in a stacked round two heat which pitted her against former WSL world champion, Sofia Mulanovich from Peru, Tia Blanco from Puerto Rico and Leilani McGonagle from Costa Rica.
Tuach got a few average waves under her belt early which were enough to put her in the lead. She was then able to solidify the lead midway through the heat when she dropped a good size set wave on the outside and belted each turn all the way to the inside and was rewarded with nine out of 10 points.
She found a second set wave at the end of the heat to score a 6.77 and end with one of the highest heat totals of the event so far – a 15.77. In doing so, she scored a convincing win over Blanco who was second, McGonagle who was third and Mulanovich who ended up in fourth.
Three hours later, Tuach was back in the water for her round three heat against Brissa Hennessy from Costa Rica, Melanie Giunta from Peru and Shelby Detmers from Mexico.
Tuach surfed another solid heat to finish in second behind Hennessy and advance to the semi-finals.
The event continues through to Saturday and will see the longboarders and SUP participants compete on Wednesday, followed by the Open Men’s Division on Thursday and Friday, when Barbados’ two top male surfers, Burke and Allan, will hit the water.
Tuach will surf in the semi-finals on the final day.