Chelsea Tuach is one of the new rookies on WSL world tour in 2016. Although Chelsea may be a new face on the CT, she has been ripping up breaks around the world for quite some time and is a very accomplished surfer in North America and abroad. In addition to introducing Chelsea, I will help to chronicle her exploits as I follow her through her rookie year. From preparation and contest to lifestyle and travel, you will see what life can be like for a pro. This will be the first installment of what will be an ongoing feature as I follow Chelsea’s rookie year. I would like to thank her personally for allowing me to share her season with the world. She not just an amazing surfer, but a humble and driven person as well.
At the age of 19, Chelea Tuach has won more international awards and accolades than any Barbadian surfer in the history of the sport. Chelsea is known the world over as the “Barbados Surfer Girl”. She has surfed around the world, winning many titles in both North America and Europe. She has been a three time recipient of the Barbados Olympic Association’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year and has also been nominated by the Barbados National Sports Council for seven (7) consecutive years (2008 – 2014) as Barbados’ Junior Female Outstanding Athlete. In 2014, she won the country’s highest sports award – the title of Sports Personality of the Year for her achievements in surfing in 2013.
In November, Chelsea was crowned the WSL North American Junior Woman’s Champion after leading the rankings all year with outstanding performances in Cocoa Beach, Florida, The US Open of Surfing in California, The Los Cabos Open of Surf in Mexico, and at the Soup Bowl Pro in Barbados. She bested junior surfers from the United States, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil. She is the first Barbadian surfer to have won the WSL North American Junior Pro Championships, having won twice!
Chelsea ended her 2015 campaign on the World Surf League’s (WSL) Women’s World Qualification series with a career high ranking of 4th in the world. Chelsea faced over 250 of the world’s top professional surfers in contests around the globe.
Chelsea placed 3rd at the inaugural WSL 6000 Hainan Pro held in China in January, 3rd at the WSL 1000 Woman’s Pro held in Merewether, NSW, Australia in February, 5th at the WSL 6000 Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro held in Oceanside, California in July, and was crowned the Woman’s Champion at the WSL 6000 Pantin Classic held in Galicia, Spain in September. This win is the greatest achievement to date for Chelsea as well as the greatest achievement ever for a Caribbean surfer. IT also helped to cement her spot on the 2016 WSL Championship Tour! She is the first surfer, not only from Barbados, but from the entire Caribbean region to achieve this honor.
Despite her heavy professional contest schedule, Chelsea’s love of her country saw her compete at the International Surfing Association’s World Surfing Games, the ‘Olympics’ of surfing, held in Nicaragua in May. She made it through the six (6) qualifying rounds, winning the qualifying round final to advance to the grand final where she won Barbados’ first medal in short board surfing at these Games.
Chelsea has been featured in a documentary called the ‘Barbados Surfer Girl’ that has already won numerous awards both locally and abroad. She has also been featured in a number of local, regional and international magazines because of her outstanding achievements in surfing, bringing tremendous exposure to Barbados.
Chelsea will continue to strive to fly the flag of Barbados high in 2016 and beyond as she competes at the highest level of professional surfing which has been dominated in the past by Australians, Hawaiians, Americans and Brazilians and which will now, for the first time ever, have a Caribbean representative!
I was able to ask Chelsea some questions in between trips to Europe and Australia about qualifying, and her plans for the upcoming 2016 season. She is currently busy with training and preparing for her rookie season, including her first ‘official’ tour event at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast. As expected Chelsea is very excited to be representing Barbados on the world tour and is working harder than ever!
1. Welcome to the 2016 WSL World Tour! What was it like and what were your thoughts when you knew your dream of surfing at the highest level became a reality?
It was the happiest moment of my life – to achieve a life long goal, one that you have worked so hard to achieve is amazing. I felt as if a load had been lifted off my shoulders. There are so many talented and deserving surfers out there that I am humbled and extremely grateful for this blessing.
1. What is it like being the face of not only surfing but sports in Barbados? Do you feel like the pressure to perform is different for you compared to others on the world tour?
I definitely feel a lot of pressure to continue to perform well and make Barbados proud. I hope to inspire other Caribbean athletes to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams despite coming from a resource starved region. But I also trust in God’s will, He has brought me to this point and I believe that whatever is meant to be will be.
3. Do you plan on doing many QS events this year or will all of your focus be strictly on world tour events?
My goal is to stay on Tour in 2017 so I will also be competing in all of the WSL WQS 6000 events – Merewether, Manly, Los Cabos, El Salvador and Oceanside.
4. You have won many awards both in your home country and abroad, but what do you feel is your signature moment thus far?
Definitley the WSL WQS 6000 Pantin Classic win in early September last year– it was the greatest win of my career, it helped me to fulfill my lifelong dream of making it on the WSL World Championship Tour and it was in a country that I love to visit.
5. Who are some of the world tour surfers you look up to, and what will it be like surfing against them now on a regular basis? Any budding rivalries or anyone that you look especially forward to competing in a heat with?
Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore and Sally Fitzgibbons are all surfers that I look up to. They are amazing surfers and amazing role models. I am excited to surf against them and all the girls on tour and push my level. I plan to take it heat by heat and surf the very best that I can – no holding back!
6. Your first ever heat in a CT event was at the US Open with Eventual world champion Carissa Moore, and you found out on pretty short notice. What was that experience like and what were your thoughts when you found out you would be competing at the US Open? Do you think that experience will help you this upcoming year?
Surfing at the US Open of Surfing in my very first CT heat was an unforgettable experience. When Jessi called to tell me that I had been granted the wild card into the event I was over the moon! This was a dream come true for me.
There were definitely some nerves paddling out in that first heat with Carissa Moore and Nikki van Dijk, I just wanted to perform and prove to myself that I could compete with the best. It was an amazing experience, battling against the World Champ, and representing Barbados at such a high level, it made me want to work even harder to qualify and it was a huge boost of confidence going into the last two QS events last year.
7. What break are you most looking forward to on tour this year and are there any world tour stops that you have yet to surf?
I am actually really looking forward to the very first event at Snapper Rocks. It is an amazing wave which I had the opportunity to surf last year at the Roxy Pro trials. I am excited to surf such a high performance wave in my very first event on tour.
There are a number of breaks on tour that I have never surfed – Bells Beach, Margaret River, Barra da Tijuca in Rio, Tavarua, Fiji and Honolua Bay, Hawaii. I can’t wait to paddle out and experience these different surf breaks. Performing in quality waves is every surfers’ dream and I feel really privileged to have been given this opportunity.
8. As far as training and fitness are you doing anything different to prepare for the upcoming year? Have you been working on anything new that fans should be looking for when you hit the water?
I have actually been training really hard with my coach, Jim Hogan, in the water to surf bigger and better. I have also been working hard with my fitness trainer, George Griffith, to get stronger and fitter so that I can execute my maneuvers with more power.
We are looking forward to seeing what this 2016 CT season holds for the already very accomplished rookie! Chelsea will bring an exciting style of surfing and push the limits of all the current surfers on tour.
Next time when we check in with Chelsea we will get updates on her first contest and some insight on how she trains and prepares for contest while traveling and maybe some thoughts from her on how she is enjoying Australia on her downtime in between contest. Until then…. Mahalo!!