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By Jake Howard
When Hurricane Irma barreled through the Caribbean in September, the storm left chaos and destruction in its wake. The swell it created was massive and tragically ended up claiming the life of a 16-year-old, up-and-coming surfer from Barbados named Zander Venezia. Two months down the track, the Live Like Zander Junior Pro, in memory of Venezia, just concluded in Barbados, and it was a pair of San Clemente protégées who swept the podium.
On the women’s side of the draw, Kirra Pinkerton claimed her first WSL pro junior victory.
“It feels amazing to win my first junior event and to do it here is extremely special,” Pinkerton said. “This event means everything to me and I’m donating my prize money to the Zander Venezia Foundation. I miss him so much and this is for him.”
For her effort, Pinkerton climbed up the WSL ratings and has qualified to participate in the World Junior Championships at Kiama, Australia, in January.
“I’ll start to get ready for worlds and keep training, but I’ll enjoy this moment for a while,” noted the 16-year-old Pinkerton.
For the men, Cole Houshmand kept his winning ways going with a well-deserved first-place finish.
“The people, this wave, this place as a community is incredible, and I can’t imagine a better way to end this year,” said Houshmand after the awards ceremony. “This win is so special,
just being in memory of Zander, it’s a big honor to earn this one. I’m looking forward to returning next year and trying to defend this win and see my surfing match where I’ve grown, both physically and mentally.”
In honor of Zander, the Venezia family founded the Zander Venezia Foundation to aid and assist disabled and underprivileged children throughout Barbados. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/livelikezander.
“Zander’s short but incredible time here on Earth has had a ripple effect on so many people, crossing borders of nationality and age,” said Zander’s father, Louis. “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.”