Though the monstrous Hurricane Irma passed miles north of Barbados, this island might have been among the first territory to register a casualty as a teenaged surfer dared the rough seas and paid for it with his life.
On Tuesday when Irma was about to pummel mostly Barbuda at the beginning of its path of destruction along the Leeward’s Islands chain, as 16-year-old Barbadian surfing ace, Zander Venezia, and others shrugged at the meteorological office’s high surf advisory and small craft warning, and reportedly died of injuries when a wave slammed him into a reef.
Venezia was a Barbados Olympic surfing prospect for 2020 when the sport is scheduled to make its debut at the games.
Other surfers tried in vain to resuscitate the youngster who had just a few weeks won the Rip Curl Gromsearch qualifying event in Outer Bank, North Carolina.
The incident occurred in an area of Cattlewash, St. Joseph, notorious high wave action in times of passing storms.
Barbados TODAY online newspaper reported a veteran surfer and six-time national surfing champion Mark Holder saying the area could be very dangerous during passage of storms
“That wave only breaks when you have hurricane swells and it breaks in a different direction, so that swell breaks like once in a blue moon. When it is breaking guys go there because it is a beautiful wave, but it is pretty dangerous,” Holder said.
He added, “In my 45 years I have never surfed that break, I surf at Soup Bowl and other places around the island but I never surf that break because it is pretty dangerous. The way the waves are coming in today even at Soup Bowl, you have to be on your ‘A’ game. You must know what you are doing because out here is not easy. If you are not a professional, today is a day you should sit down and watch.”
Packing winds of over 180 mph the Category Five storm had ripple waves across the Caribbean peninsula, with outer bands of the cyclone hitting Barbados and other territories miles away from the brunt of this weather system, said to be among the largest registered in the Atlantic.
High waves and winds propelled water over Barbados’ careenage downtown leaving behind a mess of debris Wednesday.
Beaches were dotted with red flags warning would-be swimmers of the danger of Irma’s monster waves.
The winds ripped off the roof of a house in St. David’s Village, Christ Church to register the other notable damage so far reported in Barbados, as the 68-year-old home owner, Patsy Trotman, who along with a nephew were reportedly shaken but unharmed.