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Pro surfer, 16, dies catching a wave during Hurricane Irma in Barbados

Pro teen surfer dies in Barbados catching Irma wave

  • Zander Venezia, 16, died while surfing in Barbados during Hurricane Irma
  • The Barbados native was surfing with other pros who flew in to surf Irma's swell
  • He was knocked over by a wave and hit a reef 
  • An autopsy showed he was knocked unconscious and died of drowning 
  • Just last month, Venezia won a surf competition in North Carolina and he was preparing to represent his country in the 2020 Olympics  

A promising young professional surfer has died at the age of 16 while catching a wave in Barbados during Hurricane Irma, the World Surf League said.

Zander Venezia, a native of Barbados, reportedly fell off his board and hit a shallow reef at a beach called Box by Box, it said. He and other surfers were riding a swell generated by the Category Five hurricane on Tuesday. 

An autopsy revealed that the Olympic surfing hopeful was knocked unconscious by the fall from his board and then drowned. 

Speaking to the magazine Surfline, pro-turned-surf instructor Alan Burke said that Zander was knocked over by a 'closeout set' - a wave that closes in from both sides - and 'likely hit bottom'. 

Sixteen-year-old surfer Zander Venezia was killed surfing in Barbados during Hurricane Irma on Tuesday (pictured above after winning a surf competition last month)

Sixteen-year-old surfer Zander Venezia was killed surfing in Barbados during Hurricane Irma on Tuesday (pictured above after winning a surf competition last month)

Venezia was surfing a beach on the east coast of Barbados, his home country, on Tuesday when he was knocked over by a wave, lost consciousness and then drowned. Pictured above on a different surfing outing

Venezia was surfing a beach on the east coast of Barbados, his home country, on Tuesday when he was knocked over by a wave, lost consciousness and then drowned. Pictured above on a different surfing outing

Nathan Florence, who was among the group of pro surfers who had flown into Barbados to surf Irma's swell, was the first to get to him and start performing CPR. 

'Zander was bleeding, and he wasn't moving. They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was very difficult,' Burke said. 'Box by Box is a tough place to get in and out of, even if you have the ability. There's lots of big rocks around, and some stick out of the water.' 

Burke says Venezia's last words were to fellow surfer Dylan Graves, who he spoke to before catching his final fatal wave. 

'He told Dylan, "I just got the best wave of my life!"' Burke said. 'Dylan was the last person to speak to Zander. Then that next closeout set came through.'

Veteran surfer Mark Holder says even he doesn't surf Box by Box during 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 told Barbados TODAY

The above map shows how close Hurricane Irma passed to Barbados, where Venezia died surfing on Tuesday

The above map shows how close Hurricane Irma passed to Barbados, where Venezia died surfing on Tuesday

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.'

The son of a surfer, Venezia won the Rip Curl Grom Search in the Outer Banks in North Carolina in mid-August, and in April he won the National Scholastic Surfing Association regional championships.

He was expected to represent his home country in the 2020 Olympics, the first Olympics to feature surfing as a sport. 

The Barbados newspaper Nation News called Venezia one of the island's most promising junior surfers. 

While Barbados wasn't in the eye of Irma's storm, it was left littered with debris on Wednesday after the storm brought high winds and rain to the small island country. 

The storm blew the roof off of one home, but the inhabitants of that home were not hurt. 

At least 10 people have died in Irma so far.  

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Comment by sharon stewart on September 11, 2017 at 9:40am
RIP
Comment by Cee Gee on September 11, 2017 at 8:55am

Not a smart thing to do.

Comment by Nicole Harper on September 9, 2017 at 5:47pm

Fuh true.  Any  Bajan would tell you that the sea aint got no back door especially on the East Coast. 

Sorry for the lost of his life. 

Comment by Will on September 8, 2017 at 3:09am

RIP

Comment by HandsomeMan on September 8, 2017 at 2:01am
He is an idiot. F*** the cracker
Comment by Mervin E Yearwood on September 7, 2017 at 11:33am

RIP Condolence to his family and friends.

Bajans say: 

'THE SEA AIN'T GOT A BACKDOOR'

I do love the sea peaceful and in rage as this young man did !

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